Before I start, I want to state that this blog is usually not very political. I know and even respect a lot of people who have different political viewpoints than I do, and I want to make sure to keep this blog a safe space for those people. I value diversity in opinions, and even try to understand where people are coming from when they think differently than I do. So, please – if you disagree with me politically, please know that I am doing my best to see your point of view.
With that out of the way – I’m frightened by the prospect of certain people running the country for the next four years. Maybe even terrified. I’ve never felt this way about any politician before. Despite all this fear – I have to live. I can’t just give up – I have to find a way to not only survive, but even thrive in what might be a very dark chapter in our nation’s history. Of course – those of you who know me and read this blog know that one thing that helps me to get by with my day to day is music. So, of course I made a list of songs that I plan on using for that purpose. I’m sure this will be part one of who knows how many. By the way, here’s a handy dandy Spotify link to this list. Subscribe and watch the list of songs grow!
Is it Like Today – World Party: This song kind of changes it’s tone with my mood. Sometimes I see it as a philosophical song, sometimes a negative, sometimes a neutral. Despite the tone, the song really does make us compare our own day and age with the past. It makes us look at history with unforgiving eyes, and serve as a warning to us to not repeat the mistakes of the past. There are those who are claiming Hitler 2.0. I’m not quite there yet – though I do like to say Mussolini 2.0. Regardless, it is important to ask if this new (and any) administration is repeating the mistakes of the past. Be it the mistakes of WWII, Vietnam, The Roman Empire, The Babylonian Empire, the age of exploration, or whatever age you want to look at. It has almost become a cliche that if we don’t know history, we are indeed doomed to repeat it.
Stars and Stripes of Corruption – The Dead Kennedys Sometimes I think this should be the national anthem, regardless of who is in office. Despite the fact that it starts out with an act of social disobedience of a banal manner, it asks some pretty tough questions of anyone who would commit such an act. Sure….it takes a few pot shots at the “Archie Bunkers waving the flag,” but then it makes a point of claiming social responsibility. It says change needs to happen, not just with “the other side,” but with ourselves. Let’s stop lying to eachother. Let’s encourage eachother instead! Yeah – not many people are going to agree with every single line in this song, but I feel like everyone can find a little wisdom in a line or two.
My War – Black Flag: In the introduction, I talked about how many of the people I associate with, even respect, are in political opposition to my personal stances. To quote this song – “you say you’re my friend, but you’re one of them.” It really does cause an internal war with me. Don’t worry – that’s pretty much as far as this analogy goes. I really don’t believe any of my associates want me dead and I certainly don’t want any of them dead. Still – there is a struggle. It isn’t easy to hold my tongue sometimes, even if I know it’s for the best. Granted, I’m sure some of my associates feel the same way about me.
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – Monty Python: This might have the most offensive video ever to be made – but the message is pure: Optimism is never a bad policy. I realize some are pessimists, some are realists – I’m not. I’m an optimist. I need my hope and the moment I loose hope – well – let’s just say it gets really bad. Sure…..the resident of the White House might launch us into nuclear war. Sure, he’s going to take away health care. Sure, he might take away funding for pretty much everything and make us a third world country. But hey! It could be worse! We at least had a few good years! Oh god…..please let this guy step down like….NOW!
Pride In the Name of Love – U2: In all honesty, I have it pretty ok. I’m not a persecuted gender, religion, sex, or ethnicity. Not all are this lucky. The current resident of the White House ran on a campaign of fear against minorities. Maybe it was all talk, maybe it wasn’t. Regardless, as I said before – those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it. This is why this, and songs like this are important. They talk about the past struggles of great men like Martin Luther King Jr. They remind us of the sacrifices made by these people. And they remind people like myself, the lucky ones, that we need to remember how lucky we really are. It makes us remember that despite the fact that maybe everything will be fine for a WASP like me, it might not be so fine for someone else.
You Can Call me Al – Paul Simon: This song isn’t for me – rather it’s for those who might need a friend. Those mentioned in the last section. I realize that the whole safety pin on the hoodie thing is in danger of loosing substance, but to me it’s a very serious thing. I’ve been in a place where a friendly smile and a listening ear – even that of a total stranger – would have been more than welcome. I want to be that to others that need it. Maybe no one will really need this, maybe they will. Regardless, I am willing to their bodyguard, their long lost pal. They can call me Betty, and I’ll call them Al.
Under Pressure – Queen with David Bowie: It’s a terror of knowing what this world is about….watching some good friends scream LET ME OUT! This song captures so many emotions. Those of fear, hope, pressure, and even giving up. But it ends with love. It ends with pleading for love. When we’re under pressure, it might be easy to give up – but it’s better to give love one more chance. On a totally unrelated note – damn I miss David Bowie. 🙁
Drunken Lullabies – Flogging Molly: It’s ok to be angry at whatever the president does. It’s not ok to fall into complacency. It’s not ok just to roll over and take it. It’s not ok to sit around, singing drunken lullabies about better times. This song was written during W’s administration – but I feel its time is again coming. And just like the song says – I feel we’re going to, once again, find ourselves in the same old mess. Let’s sober up and do something about this crap storm!
Baby I Can’t Please You – Sam Phillips: This song is dedicated to those who have opposing ideals and decide to be dicks about it. Yeah – strong language, but necessary. It’s dedicated to those who decide it’s better to be “right” than to care about those who are, in your eyes, wrong. It’s dedicated to pundits – both conservative, liberal, or other, who care more about their ideologies than the people they hurt. This song’s true message is simple – stop being a jerk! Just stop it! You’re dealing with people with real emotions.
Hand in My Pocket – Seeway: When Alanis Morissette originally sang this song in the 90s, it felt like an anthem of knowing all is well, even though all is not known. It said despite our lack of direction, we could figure it out somehow. It was, in truth, a very optimistic song. This version keeps that optimism, however it adds an element of anger. The vocals and guitars add an element of rage. So, what about the optimism found in the original? It’s still there – it’s just more about “this too shall pass” and less about an immediate it’s going to be alright type of attitude. Everything’s going to be fine fine fine….but it might not be fine for awhile.
Raised by Wolves – U2: This is a story of a car bombing Bono almost became a victim of. I’m not sure if he would have been in the blast, or just a witness – but regardless, he would have been a victim. One cannot recover from even being a witness of that kind of violence. Do I believe that our country is heading towards this type of violence? Probably not. Though I do fear a fascist administration – and I do fear the retaliation that might ensue.
Ping Pong – Stereolab: Perhaps one of my biggest fears of the current administration is that we end up in another stupid war. A war we spend billions – maybe even trillions on, and gets us nothing. A war that gives us a whole new set of problems, all in the name of whatever buzzword might be popular at the time. I’m usually a moderate type of guy – but damn – I HATE war. I’m a hardcore pacifist, and I don’t want my tax dollars used to fund war. What’s worse is the military industrial complex spouting the lies this song talks about. War is good for the economy. Bull(CENSORED). And besides – the lives of others are worth more than any philosophical dollars some already rich CEO might make. Yeah – sorry, I rant when it comes to war.
Message in a Bottle – Sting and Edin Karamazov (Live from the Labyrinth): You probably know this song – but this version of this song is just amazing. Very slow and subtle. I feel as though this version spades, no, hearts, no..dang it – can’t think of the right word – but whatever word it is, it does it to the original. It really captures the feeling of loneliness the original so desperately wants to describe to the listener. And then a message of hope in the last verse. We aren’t alone people. We have each other. We aren’t alone in being alone.
Russian Lullaby – Havalina Rail Co: One for his boss. Ok, ok, cheap shot. Fppppt.
Escher’s World – Chagall Guevara: This is just here to say we might wake up in an alternative timeline. One that doesn’t make sense. One that disobeys the laws of physics. One that might just be a dream land. Maybe that’s where we’re at. Maybe it’s all a dream……
I Should be Allowed to Think – They Might be Giants: I said one of my biggest fears of the current administration is going to war. Another is a blatant stripping of our rights. I’m very libertarian when it comes to things like free speech, freedom of expression, and the like. Hell, I’m a writer. I work in community access television! I want people to say what they want to say even if I disagree with it. However, considering some of the things pulled already, I fear these rights are in jeopardy. What’s next? Thought crime?
Be Thou My Vision – Pedro The Lion: My final addition to this list is about centering my spirit I guess. I’ve talked alot about my hopes fears, emotions, et cetera. This song is to say – I guess this is to keep my focus on what really matters. We’ve not been blown to oblivion yet. While I don’t have a lot of hope for the current administration – there’s always hope. There’s always faith. There’s always love. I chose this version because a) I love David Bazen’s voice, and b) it gives me the feeling that Bazen sang it not out of praise – but out of surrender despite whatever situation might have been happening.
Note: This is a fictional account of voting in North Carolina. The state was chosen as a state that is far away from Oregon and does not have the vote by mail system we have in Oregon. The author has not, nor does he ever, have plans on moving to North Carolina. I also want to add, if anyone from North Carolina reads this and finds my portrayal of your state offensive, perhaps we can open a dialogue about it. Really, I played a lot of stereotypes here, and I don’t know how many are actually true. So yeah – let’s chat!
It was a foggy October morning. I had just moved to North Carolina a few months ago and was excited about voting in my first election in my new home state. I made sure to register on time, with my correct address and my political party of choice. All my t’s were crossed, all my I’s were dotted. I just needed to sit back, relax, and wait for the postal carrier to bring my ballot, along with the junk mail and bills they usually bring. I waited for a few weeks. By October 25th, I started to worry. What if I filled out my voter registration wrong? What if my address was wrong? What if the post office accidentally sent it to my previous residence in Oregon? My hands began to sweat, my body began to shake. I decided I needed to call someone.
After I got home from work, I called the county voting office, which gave me a polite message saying they were only open from 10-3, Tuesday through Friday. Stupid government agencies! Oh well, I’ll call tomorrow during my lunch break. The next morning, sandwich in one hand, and phone in another I called again, only to be put on hold. I consumed my lunch and listened to the Muzak – patiently waiting for someone to answer my call. I waited 30 minutes and my lunch break was over. I decided to wait for a few minutes more, when finally someone answered.
“Eeeyello, Mecklenburg County votin’, ow might I elp ya’ll?” – a male voice with a distinct, southern accent rang out.
“Umm,” I said sheepishly, “I never received my ballot. What do I do?”
“Son, what r ya’ll talkin’ bout?”
“In the mail, I never got my ballot in the mail. Shouldn’t I have gotten it by now?”
“Yer not from these parts, are you?”
“No – I’m from Oregon. Why?”
“Oreeegone? Shoot. Well I don’t know what they do up there, but ‘round here we don’t send no ballots in the mail.”
“Umm….how do you vote then?”
“Boy – you don’t even know how to vote? You gotta go to a polin’ place from 9 AM to 5 PM.”
“Umm…that’s odd, but when in Rome I guess. Where are the poling places?”
After a short interchange of information, he directed me to a school near my house. I vaguely, back in the 80s, remember standing in line with my mom at a school. Maybe this is what she was doing.
I made arrangements with my boss to vote before work. He insisted I be in by 11, I figured that would be plenty of time. I figured wrong. When I arrived on Election Day at 8:45, there was a massive line. It was like the lines I saw in Portland, waiting to get into concerts. Strike that – these were not concertgoers. These were people from all walks of life, different ages, different ethnicities, different politics – way more diverse than a crowd waiting for a New Pornographers show.
At 9 AM sharp, the doors opened. They let a few people in at a time. There was probably around 150 people in front of me…I had no idea how long my wait was going to be. I sat on the ground, but an officer came up to me and barked “NO SITTING!” So I rolled my eyes and got up to my feet once more. Meanwhile a slow drizzle of people walked into the school. Finally after an hour and a half, it was my turn.
I walked into the door and to a table. A lady asked a few questions, glanced at my ID, and handed me my ballot. I was instructed to silently walk into a nearby booth. I felt more like I was taking a driver’s test at the DMV, and less like I was exercising my constitutional right to vote.
As I reached my booth, I got my cheat sheet out and realized there were things on this ballot that I hadn’t even thought about! Geez, how do they expect you to know every little item, every little race, and every little measure on the ballot? I wanted to say to the next booth – hey, what did you get for number 8? I mean, I was in a school, and I felt like I was taking a test after all! Then I looked over my shoulder – the officer who barked at me earlier was staring straight at me, almost wanting an excuse to throw me out. I decided I better play by their rules for the time being.
After I turned in my ballot, it was nearly 10:50, and I was supposed to be into work by 11. I was not going to make it. I raced to work and arrived ten minutes late. My boss, angry at my tardiness walks in and says “This is why I don’t vote – my time is too precious.”
I miss a lot of things about Oregon. I miss the coast, I miss sunsets over the Pacific, I miss the weather, I miss the people, and I miss recycling. Today, I learned of one more thing I miss – I miss voting by mail. I miss the convenience of filling out my ballot at my leisure, and dropping it off whenever I had a moment to do so. I miss not having to stand in line like it was the 80s and we were voting for Regan. I miss not being barked at by officers who were overly stimulated on equal parts power and, I’m guessing caffeine. I miss not getting ridiculed or hassled, all because I want to cast my voice. All the pain and horror experienced casting my vote in North Carolina, could have been easily avoided by implementing a vote by mail system. This truly was an American Voting Horror Story.
Fahrenheit 451 warned us of the dangers involved in book burning and censorship. I grew up hearing stories of libraries in the 1950s burning books they thought were inappropriate. One of the funniest scenes in the Indiana Jones franchise involves Indiana Jones meeting Hitler at a book burning. Book burning has become synonymous with evil and censorship. So when a church in Florida announced that they will be burning copies of the Koran on September 11th, there was, of course an outrage. After all, burning a book some deem as holy says the burners want a religion censored and even banned, never mind the first amendment! Or are they? While I’m sure this group of “Christians” would love for every copy of the Koran to be ripped off of library and bookstore shelves all across the country, thus burning in a fire fit to destroy the one ring of power, there’s also another side of book burning. That side is one of peaceful demonstration and protest.
Let me clarify my stance on the matter before anyone thinks that I’m siding with the church in Florida. I do not support their efforts to burn the Koran. Having said that, I do support their right to protest, however blindly, anything they wish to protest. Sure, they’re wrong, and downright stupid – not to mention hypocritical – but as Evelyn Beatrice Hall once said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” These people have the right to peacefully protest Islam, just as the Muslims have the right to practice religion. And like I said, I do NOT side with their beliefs on this matter. I believe they’re being hypocritical and unloving. They are proclaiming their hatred for another religion – one they probably feel should not be covered under the first amendment. However, they are not actually harming anyone, and they are not forcing any censorship – that’s what makes this specific book burning different then the Nazi book burnings.
Twice in this article, I’ve called these soon to be book burners “hypocritical.” This is true on two levels. There’s the obvious level. They are, essentially saying the first amendment is only for Christians. They are saying that you only have the right to practice religion if you are practicing their religion. The second level of hypocrisy is somewhat ironic. These “Christians” are not following the commands of Christ, and hence they are being hypocritical to their own religion. Christ himself commanded his followers to “Love your neighbor as you love yourself,” (Luke 10:26) and to “Do to others as you want them to do to you” (Luke 6:31). How is taking another religion’s sacred texts and burning them following either of these commandments? Would these “Christians” like it if the Muslims were burning the Bible? Would these Christians stand up in outrage if another religion wanted Christianity exempt from the first amendment? I guarantee you that these “Christians” would be outraged if either of these things happened. And yet, these “Christians” do the very thing to the Muslims. Oh, and this is not just about banning a religion. They chose to do this on September 11th – this is about vengeance. Never mind Mathew 5: 38-42 (turn the other cheek), never mind Romans 12:19 (Vengeance is mine sayeth the lord) – these “Christians” want revenge.
Again, I say that while I support the rights of those who plan on burning the Koran, I also wish they wouldn’t. It seems like something that will do more harm than good. It’s not going to attract any more followers to Christianity. It’s not going to change the first amendment – which is a good thing. It’s not going to change the hearts of any Muslim. Rather, it’s going to scare away would be followers of Christianity. It’s going to make more and more people wonder if perhaps the first amendment should exempt Christians, and it will give more ammo to the extremist factions found in Islam. So while I certainly respect the rights of these “Christians” to protest, perhaps it would be better for all parties involved if they worked on other efforts.
Limbaugh, Coulter, and Beck are always trying to pick a fight. It is almost as if they would rather be professional wrestlers instead of political commentators! Well, maybe a career change should be in order for these three (and others like these three) – maybe they should become professional wrestlers.