Friday, May 19, 2006

The Other Shoe and the Moon That Rocks

Good gravy. Well, I guess I was asking for that. Before I go further, let me suggest that those uninterested in the following use their scroll bar and zip down to the picture of Moon Mullican. That's the music part of this post. And that music has nothing to do with immigration. I promise to keep the focus here 99% music, but I won't apologize for exercising my right to rant on occasion on whatever I see fit. Feel free to disagree with me, vehemently, but I get cranky when it's dictated what I can or can't say. On my blog. Where I give out free stuff. Again, there's a scroll bar that takes you to the mp3's. There's no gun to anyone's head. Yet.

For those sticking around, thanks.

I'm going to take a moment to address some of the comments on my last post. It seems I've offended quite a few folks, but I'm concerned that perhaps some of the anger directed my way stems more from frustration with the whole issue than with anything I actually wrote. I'm frustrated too. Most of the negative reactions don't seem to really address what I posted. I never once asserted that I was for or against deportation. I merely expressed concern about the rhetoric and some of the more inherent issues involved. If I'm going to take damnation for that, that's fine, let's discuss. But I'm not keen on arguments that have nothing do with anything I said. This isn't the Rush Limbaugh or Al Franken show.

By the way, the shooting I referred to apparently started yesterday.

Now for the rebuttals. If the posters of these comments I'm responding to wish to respond in kind, please do so. I'd like to continue discussing. But I won't be posting any further immigration issues in the main text of this blog. We can continue in the comments, and if it gets overwhelming, maybe we can add a forum somewhere. Who knows? I'm putting their entire comments on, and putting them in bold, so as not to be accused of cherry picking or taking out of context. And I would be remiss if I didn't say a hearty thank you to those who posted comments in support of me (if not in agreement, at least in my right to have opinions).

First up is our friend G-Dub (and I'm seriously thinking of changing my name to B-Clint or N-Chom, or something fun like that). Take it away, dawg:

"I'm tired of being called xenophobic (and often worse) because I believe that immigration should be done legally and with at least some semblance of order"

Great. I agree with you completely. It should be dealt with legally and with order. I'm sorry that you feel that everyone is calling you xenophobic. Why do you think so many are calling you that?

"It's easy to seem compassionate while spewing platitudes about dignity and fairness. But I see nothing but self congratulatory laziness here. Oh yes, you care about the plight of the poor and downtrodden.

No you don't. You care about how you feel about the poor and downtrodden."

Hmm...interesting. Since you've never met me, have no idea what social programs I work with, or how I work my ideas into actual physical action, I can only assume that you're making a congragulatory and lazy assumption about me based on no evidence whatsoever. If you'd ever like to join me for a day, I'd certainly welcome you. Then I can let you discuss my self-congragulatory and lazy nature all you want. How does that "feel" to you?

"If you really gave a shit, would you want to perpetuate a system in which Americans hire people who can't go to the authorities for fear of being deported when they face unsafe working conditions, When they are denied overtime for longer hours, and paid jack squat to start with?
I don't believe in the myth that there are jobs that Americans won't do. There are jobs that Americans won't do unless they are paid a fair wage, but what's wrong with that?"

Again, I agree with you 100% on this. The "system" is severely broken, and immigrants are treated like shit with no recourse for complaint. It seems as if you "feel" strongly about this, so what have you done about it? That almost sounded as if you felt compassion for a minute. Perhaps not, and I'm sorry if I offend you by suggesting it. To reiterate, though, I'm still trying to find the exact moment in which I suggested that the system in place is a good one. I don't believe I did, and as we continue, it seems you're taking a Bill O'Reilly-like form of arguing with me about a point or stance I never made. You need to read more carefully, my friend. Same with the "myth" about jobs that Americans will or will not do. The only reference I made to that was in suggesting that it wasn't an issue, and that I thought the issue went deeper. Are you arguing with me or someone else? I'm not quite sure.

"I grew up detassling corn. It was a right (sic) of passage to midwestern youth when I was a kid. We learned that hard work can be good for you, how to be responsible and to take pride in a hard job well done. I worked for a seed corn company and saw first hand what happened when the shift was made to contract detassling, with the contracts going to migrant workers. They were predominantly illegal and everyone knew it. As a result, the amount they were paid could be kept to a minimum. What were they gonna do... complain to the authorities? I saw the conditions in which they lived. It was wrong to do this. Did the price of seed corn go down for farmers?

You know the answer to that."

No quibble on your points here. Growing up, I worked on my Aunt's and Uncle's farms. It was backbreaking work, often, but the (tired) rewards at the end of the day was worth it. Like you, I learned alot about hard work at an early age. I think the exploitation of farmers and farm labor (legal or non) is another serious issue that we need to discuss as a nation. It's not a sexy one, and so our dear friends in Washington (both sides of the aisle) avoid it like the plague. Again, you refer to the poor treatment of "illegals" as if it was a cause you were concerned about. Interesting.

"It does nothing for anyones' dignity to allow poverty stricken people to come here illegally and work for substandard wages. It's not compassionate. It's cruel and lazy. Cruel, because now there is a class in America that has nowhere to turn when they are abused, forced to work in unsafe conditions and paid jack squat to do it. Lazy, because it's the easy way out. The problem of poverty and corruption in Mexico cannot be solved by exploiting their labor force. "

I feel like I'm repeating myself, but, I must say, you are absolutely correct once again. Is there something I'm missing? What are we arguing about? You have yet to address anything I wrote about. I swear to god, you must have posted your comment on the wrong blog. Oh, you got the right one. I did use the word dignity, for which you took me to task for, and then keep using yourself. Sigh. Can this get any sillier? By the way, it does nothing to anyone's dignity to exploit the issue for political reasons, either.

"The myth of the job americans won't do now extends into construction, trucking, and other typical "good jobs" that Americans have done for generations. Do you think it cost's less to buy a new house or ship a truckload of goods across country because now there is an illegal alien being exploited by someone? If you do think that, are you happy about it?"

Yes, I'm absolutely ecstatic. I think I made it perfectly clear that I'm all for exploitation. I said it right that one...sentence...oh, well, I can't seem to find it. Come on, man, did you actually read my post before you started writing this?

"Nobody is being served by a corrupt system that depends on bringing in poverty stricken immigrants and paying them jack shit. I for one would be happy to pay more for my tomatoes and lettuce. It won't "wreck the economy" like corporate America claims. Shit, We're paying $70 dollars for a barrel of oil and $3.00 for a gallon of gas. The econmy is still there. At least the added cost of hiring only legal immigrants or American citizens would end up, to a much greater degree, in this country. We all know who's getting rich on $70 oil."

Um. Ok. Sure. Sounds good to me. Is there a point here?

"The problem of poor Mexicans is in Mexico. We are doing nothing to help them with our so-called compassion."

And since we as a nation make it a point never to stick our noses in anyone else's business, there's no way we could ever consider helping out Mexico in ways that would benefit both our countries. Finding solutions is much worse than if we'd just go in a bomb the hell out of them (did I just say that? Yeah, I did...ok, you can rake me over the coals for that one. Because you can't see my tongue firmly implanted in my cheek). And obvioulsy compassion is a terrible thing, too. Actually, it's not, and I'll make no apologies. That's your issue to deal with, not mine.

"If it makes you feel better, call me xenophobic, racist or whatever you want. It's all about your "feelings" isn't it?"

I'm sorry to have to say this, but I think your comments actually do more to solidify my original thoughts than to dispel them. If you could have actually addressed my post rather than some random rant about your "feelings" on the matter, maybe we have turned this into an intersting discussion. As it is, I "feel" as I must move on.

And move on to Commenter #2:

"Love your site. Your musical taste is impeccable. Thanks for the postings - I check you out daily."

Thanks. I try to put up tunes I think folks might like. Sorry that I'm often painfully slow getting up new ones.

"I appreciate your heartfelt comments concerning the immigration debate. I don't agree with most of them but that's OK. For what it's worth - here's my take. First, assimilation is a bitch - a long, arduous process. Always has been, always will be. Second, well the fact that you never see anyone swimming to Cuba means something too."

Yep. So far so good.

"The test of any sovereign nation is that it has borders. You can bash Bush all you want but whomever is President has the responsibility to watch out for the border. Bush proposed an amnesty program, one that many members of his party vehemently disagreed with. His views sure as hell aren't those of Tancredo."

I might suggest that, while they certainly play an important part, borders are merely a piece in the puzzle that comprises a test of a soveriegn nation. And yes, I will bash Bush all I want. He is the president. He asked for this job, and all the criticism that comes with it. If he wasn't so ineffective, he would have the power to advance his own agenda (one which even I must admit he seems to care very strongly about.), rather than that of the extremes in his party. But as it is, and because of his failings elsewhere, he is left with a policy he seems to personally disdain. Unfortunately, that's his fault, and I have every right as a (legal) citizen of this country to point that out. Having lived in Denver for seven years, I certainly agree with you about Tancredo.

"And before you lump all the Republicans into the party of xenophobia, check the history. Which party was the impetus behind Davis-Bacon and what was its original goal? Which party sponsored and promoted all of the major civil rights legislation in the 60's?. Which administration "spied" on Martin Luther King?"

I feel as if I'm constantly repeating myself here, but at what point did I even mention the word "Republican", or single out a particular party? I didn't. You are making an assumption on something that bears out no evidence, so I don't see where this last argument has any bearing on my post. In a self deprecating moment, I confessed to having a political bias, but I did not suggest I had a political party bias. If you must know, I find both "approved" political parties to be filled with spineless, opportunistic money grubbers (the politicians, not the regular folks who do the voting). I voted in the last presidential election, but I did not vote Republican or Democrat (and be careful making an assumption about who I did vote for...there were many availble candidates to chooses from, and my choice remains mine, and mine alone.). It does happen to be that the current president and the majority in Congress happen to be of the Republican persuasion, so I would suppose that it would be difficult to not include them in the discussion, but you really have no basis to assume that if this was a Democrat administration I wouldn't be reacting in the same manner. I "check the history" regularly, and I don't see either party looking particularly spotless at various points along the historical timeline (which is not to suggest that both parties have not done some very good things. Of course they have.). Are you suggesting, since you assumed I was only talking about the Republican party, that you believe these negative apply only to the Republicans? Since you jumped to that conclusion, I might question if you feel that these issues actually apply to the Republicans. Your assumption, then, is more damning than anything I could actually say about the Big Elephant. I would point out, though, that one of the largest opponents to the current rhetoric and legislation on immigration, is also one of the biggest supporters of the Republican party. That would be our Catholic friends. I simply don't believe that this issue runs along party lines. We're completely divided across the board, and, to reiterate, this really demands more discussion and an attempt at a reasonable solution than we are currently investing. If we could only stop thinking in terms of Republican and Democrat...but I'm probably asking too much. We're right back to the "black" and "white", good versus evil, right and wrong thing.

And now, for something completely different.

Moon Mullican was a madman, a piano-pounding, boogie woogie, barrellhousin', country jiving whirlwind, and you betcha Jerry Lee Lewis was paying attention. And he was doing this in the late 30's and 40's, long before rockabilly, rock and roll, and jump party blues came into it's commercial own. Highly influential, if not overtly so, Mullican might be the father of a vast array of musical stylings, but stays in the shadow, the corner of the barroom, pounding and wailing away at the out of tune piano as if it were his demon lover. Yeah, he's that good. Plus, and you can probably see this coming, he's got a fucking great moniker.

Country boppin' rock'n' roll. You need you some Moon.

Moon Mullican: Cherokee Boogie (mp3)

Moon Mullican: Seven Nights to Rock (mp3)

Moon Mullican: Bottom of the Glass (mp3)

I'm heading off to vacation. Be back in a week and a half (Christ, that's about my normal posting rate anyway.) If you leave a comment, I'll try to answer, but I might be short a computer for a while. As ever, support your local independents. Thanks for stopping by, please excuse my spelling and punctuation errors, I was trying to get this out before hopping on the train.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Great Leap

Thanks to those who've e-mailed or left comments with recommendations for my upcoming "vacation". I'm all set and particularly a-quiver about seeing Wanda Jackson.


Xenophobia is fun. Every culture since the beginning of time has practiced it's fear of the "other" in some form or another, from rock throwing and mudslinging to the horror of genocide. In this, the United States of America is hardly alone, but it is our arrogance and hubris that pinpoints us. While pretending to the throne of The Great Society, we collectively forget history but for the deeds of Great White (apparently) Men, never-you-minding the backs broken on the wheel of labor and the stew, the olio, of culture that forged an impressive stamp on the malleable foil that we call a Country. We are moving from a land of color to a land of Black and White, a photo negative resounding in merely good and bad, all things reduced to it's basest reaction. I've never trusted anyone who says they see no color. It's important to see color, to acknowledge the difference inherent. I don't mean in terms of race and skin tone (though those always seem to play a part), but in the intricacy of interaction, and the values we place on ideal.

I watched the leader of the free world (ahem) tonite, practicing his own brand of fear and loathing on national tv. Many in this country agree with the idea we need to tighten our borders, spy on our citizens (Hi Mr. Cheney!), create a singular language, and eradicate any and all who make us fearful, for whatever reason we wish to create. We're addicted to spin, but not so much substance.

My father was from a coal mining family. Union workers all. My mother came from Quaker stock, and her family were farmers. Both had grandparents who could claim to be from somewhere else. Another time, another country. If they were alive, I wonder what rift would exist between them in regards to immigration, two forces of labor who might be diametrically opposed to the issues facing us in this present hour.

But I was raised on equal sides to believe the measure of a man and woman was taken in their labor, their work. I was also raised in equal part to believe that that measure was leavened by their compassion and humanity. Not very trendy sentiments this day and age.

I believe in the absolute dignity of all humans. I think everyone wants to provide food for their family's table, and a roof over their head. And when you take that away, when you take a man or woman's dignity away, you are poisoning the well we all have to drink from.

I honestly don't know what the answer to the immigration "problem" is. Both sides are very passionate about issues of rights and legality. It's tricky, and I wish we could all tread more lightly, more thoughtfully, less reactionary . The proposed solution seems to have some economically questionable roots, but I am no economist, so I really couldn't speak to that, and it's problematic when we start referring to human beings in terms of numbers and indicators. At its best, though, if we insist on approaching the issue in terms of black and white, the issue smacks of xenophobia. At it's worst it reeks of racism. Now, I'm being reactionary. I have an obvious political bias myself. Which takes us right back to the beginning, and here we go round again.

Some believe that the land belongs to all, and that it is not only impossible, but immoral, to claim possession of that which was given as a gift to all by some deity or spirit or somesuch. But we like our possessions. We like to own stuff, and we like the manufactured security it give us. And we will shoot anyone who tries to take it away, or make us share. Hell, we've already started shooting. A long time ago. And it's going to get worse. We're so very afraid.

What am I trying to say? I don't know. All this rhetoric seems sinister though, and I can't help but suspect the sentiment runs deeper in its implications than merely protecting jobs nobody wants to do, and protecting a language the President can't even speak. The long festering culture war has escalated, and may the whitest man win.

Woody Guthrie: This Land is Your Land (mp3)

Billy Bragg: Waiting For the Great Leap Forward (mp3)

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Will Burn For Twang

Help. The missus and I are going to be hopping on the Amtrak in a little over a week to spend some quality (gulp) time in Lincoln, Nebraska (for a wedding and assorted in-law visitin', in case you were wonderin'). Anybody got any recommendations for quality evening activity places to go? Food, booze and music venues? Dives are always welcome. Local bands I should check out? Does anyone from Lincoln even read here? We'll be there from May 20-27th. Save me.

I will not be posting any songs by Barbara Mandrell here, by the way. Just in case you were wondering. That has nothing to do with Lincoln. I just wanted to get it off my chest.

I will post songs by The Wilburn Brothers, though.

Born Virgil Doyle and Thurman Theodore, the Wilburn Brothers led what seems to be a typical life for quite a few pre-50's country music types. Father buys instruments for the young'uns, the lads take right to pickin' and grinnin', and eventually find themselves(along with other members of their family as The Wilburn Family) entertaining folks around the area with performances on local radio and music venues. Eventually catching the ear of a famous producer or musician (Roy Acuff in this case), it's on to the Grand Ole Opry and stardom. Well, not quite yet. Teddy and Doyle were eventually shipped off to Korea. Upon their return, the rest of the family found other pressing needs to attend, and Teddy and Doyle continued on as The Wilburn Brothers. Again, typical career path for young men from the "golden age" of country music. Right?

I still get a giggle about the running "old timey music" joke in Oh Brother, Where Art Thou, and The Wilburn Brothers could easily have been a model for the Soggy Bottom Boys (as it turns out, the Brothers sang backup on Webb Pierce's "In the Jailhouse Now"). Steeped in a vintage aura, to modern ears, the Brothers ran the mountain and burned the little roadhouse down, slowing down for some of the sweetest harmonies this side of the Everly's. As ever, sin and salvation played a major role in lyrical matters, a quaint tradition in these times often visited with an ironic nudge, but in the Wilburn's time, a serious contradiction, backslidin' and repentin' from one song to the next. Things we like here at the Mountain. We like The Wilburn Brothers.

Enjoy some hot, twangy country music.

The Wilburn Brothers: Barred From Every Honky Tonk (mp3)

The Wilburn Brothers: I'm Gonna Tie One On Tonight (mp3)

The Wilburn Brothers: Roll Muddy River (mp3)

The Wilburn Brothers: It's Another World (mp3)

Please support your local, independent Honky Tonk.

Monday, May 01, 2006

All Shook Up

Links are now active. Download away.

Yep, it's Billy Childish again. I make no apologies, though. Until bloggers, rock'n'rollers, and all around hep cats can unite to make the man (and his merry mens and womenfolk) a proper million seller (which actually might ruin his day, come to think...outsider aesthetic 'n all), I'll continue to occasionally interrupt regularly scheduled sides of country lovin' for a bout of Childishness.

These here boppin' tunes (see below) are from Childish's early period, playing with his second proper band The(e) Milkshakes. Ostensibly a beat busker combo filtered through punk attitude, you can also see brief flashes of Billy's obsession with the blues that would manifest itself most strongly on his solo albums (all 10,000 of 'em). Taking their cues from The Kinks, Downliners Sect, Bo Diddley, and Chuck Berry, The(e) Milkshakes play unabashed rock'n'roll, 2 minute blasts of fast cars, fast women, and sexual desperation, the logical middle point between the punk of The Pop Rivets and the literate trash of Thee Headcoats (and beyond). The(e) Milkshakes also represent Childish at his most fun, perfect for parties and moped riding. Enjoy.

Milkshakes: After Midnight (mp3)

Milkshakes: Out of Control (mp3)

Milkshakes: Rip It Up (mp3)

Milkshakes: Who Do You Love (mp3)

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