Random Mid-January Musings...
"Freedom Isn't Free" and Other Bumper Sticker Slogans
So over the Christmas holiday, my parents and I did our annual 3.5 hour drive over Pennsylvanian hill-and-dale to visit my grandmother (still kicking it at 94!). A bunch of my cousins, second cousins, aunts and uncles, who all live in the same town as Grandma, were also there.
These are very, very religious people...you might call them "bible bashers." Dyed-in-the-wool Baptists, hardcore Republicans.
Now, I realize that when you look closely at alot of people who identify themselves as "Republican," you actually find a belief system much more akin to Libertarianism: fiscally responsible, but socially progressive...
But not this posse. My peeps are right-wingers to the core, Right Wing with a capital R and a capital Dubya. Anti-abortion, anti-gay, pro-gun, pro church-and-state and PTL-in' like nobody's bizness. They haven't seen very much of the world other than what gets filtered through Bill O'Reilly and FOX News. They were born in a very small, very white town and will never leave it. It's God, Guns & Walmart as far as the eye can see.
Now before I continue, I don't want you to get me wrong -- I love all of my relatives, despite whatever. They're basically good people with good intentions but I take serious issue with some of their attitudes toward the world that exists outside county lines.
For example, one of my aunts walked in and roared, "Merry Christmas!", then added sourly, "or, as they like to say these days, 'happy holidays'" and screwed up her face to convey both her disgust and the patent absurdity of the idea that someone would observe a holiday that isn't Christmas.
This crap makes my f*cking
This is the same brand of shortsighted arrogance that drives the terrorist wingnuts, is it not? It's this mindset that the particular way YOU happen to view the world is the only one that matters. No opposing opinions or lifestyles will be tolerated.
However. I want to make another point clear: this kind of fascism is as rampant on the left as on the right. To me there's no difference between religious fundamentalist yahoos who assault women outside of abortion clinics and those animal rights extremists who throw blood on people wearing fur coats.
It's a big world out there and there are alot of ways to look at things. To assume that your particular view is the only relevant one is myopic and pigheaded. If you want the right to practice your own religion and have your own opinions, then you've got to let everyone else do the same.
Why is that so damn hard to understand?
On a completely different subject. I can't stand people who think they're more "hardcore" than everyone else because of how many tattoos or piercings they have. I know people with gallons of ink on their arms who don't have so much as an eyedropper of "punk rock" in their bloodstream. I know people with mohawks who are about as "rock and roll" as a Gap ad or a Broadway musical. Frauds and posers come in all shapes and colors and I see right through y'all. Your character and your achievements and your true individuality are what matters, I don't care what you look like.
So spare me your cooler-than-thou posturing and show me something real, bitch!
Time to Make the Donuts
I've been thinking alot lately about musicians who choose, against all better judgement and good taste, to hire themselves out to crappy singer/songwriters and fake, forgettable bands rather than invest themselves in something they really believe in. You see them all the time in NYC (just go to the Bitter End on any given night): talented people playing shitty music for cash.
I guess you'd call it "craftsmanship vs art." I can sort of understand that some players aren't particularly creative and would rather play weddings than try to write their own songs or whatever. That's cool.
But the ones that have me perplexed are those who, deep down, have something genuinely good to offer to the world, yet opt instead to follow the mercenary route, playing meaningless gigs for a paycheck,using their talents to prop up this or that deep-pocketed mediocrity, plying their respective trades no differently than a plumber would...
Maybe I'm just a purist but am I the only one who thinks art is sacred? I don't wanna get too precious on y'all but I believe that if you've been given a special talent, you shouldn't spend your life squandering it; you should apply every ounce of what you've got toward something you care about, something you will be proud of for your whole life.
When I'm lying on my deathbed, I want to know that I made as much great music as possible during my mortal years.
Furthermore, the world needs great art and great music! Needs it badly, now more than ever. Has there ever been a time when our culture has been so utterly saturated with meaningless, manufactured product? Every year, billions o' bucks are wasted on forgettable Hollywood movies, disposable pop stars and grade-Z television entertainment. I want to fight against that, not be a part of it! It may be a losing battle but I want to at least be able to say I kicked back as hard as I could, that I always tried to do something good, that I was true to myself.
Worse yet, playing music ultimately becomes nothing more than a job to the hired guns. It's just something you wake up in the morning and do, like waiting tables or digging ditches. All the fun, the joy and the passion gets drained out of it and you see it all over their faces: the "another gig, another dollar" vibe.
Who wants to just end up a name rolling quickly by in the end credits of a terrible movie? I'd rather make the greatest movie I can, even if it only plays in a few theaters.
The Land of Ice and Snow
I'm going to Sweden in a few weeks and I'm excited to see a little Scandinavia for the first time, especially the part that birthed ABBA, The Knife and hundreds of death metal bands. I'll try to post a blog about it after I get back.