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Sunday, September 30, 2012

RETURN TO WATERFALL ROAD

         giacometti



I woke this morning with the same thinking I went to sleep with. I've come up against two stone walls and don't know how to get past them. One of them was that I can't write on this site for it cutting off after every phrase. Now it's working. What's up? I went over to wordpress and it was worse. I wrote a complete page, clicked on publish and it all went away. Wrote another and clicked on publish; only two paragraphs appeared. I can't do that anymore. Now that this site, blogger, is working, I suppose I can trust it to work from here on. My head is in a spin after deciding to stop writing because this site doesn't work, and now it works. Just now sent a thanks feedback to whoever is working the site.

I went to Charleston on a 4-day trip, one day going, one day coming home and 2 days there. Quite a beautiful city now. It's always been beautiful, but in its present incarnation the city is as beautiful as it has ever been, and then quite some more. I thought of Vada, a year old, everything new to baby. I went back to where I'd lived 35 years ago and it felt good. I was like a baby in that I'd lived long enough to see the city change radically to the point it was as new for me as seeing it the first time. Much was familiar, of course, and the familiar was new too.

After 35+ years living in the country, I can't go back to urban thinking. One problem is everyone there is middle class to upper middle class. I am so at home in the working class that the people of the middle class are of another culture, another world, a totally different way of thinking from living in the mountains. It was an enjoyable couple days visiting friends and eating at restaurants with middle class food was interesting. One major difference is that in the middle class having a drink of liquor is not only acceptable, but pretty much required. In the working class you're a drunk if you touch a drop of liquor. When my mother found me with a smile on my face after three beers, she had to wipe it away with an hour long lecture telling me I'm an alcoholic, beating it into my head with intent that I never forget I'm an alcoholic. I sat there bored out of my mind telling myself I am not an alcoholic, because I know. Three beers do not make an alcoholic. They don't even make a drunk.

My friend Eric, who lives in Portland, grandson of Ted Stern in Charleston, flew East and rented a car. Stern is 99 years of age, in good health and clear mind. At 99, he's kind of on the diving board to the spirit world and he's comfortable. No fear of death. Ready to take the deep plunge when it's time. Eric I've known since he was a child. On this trip, 4 days with Eric after not seeing him for several years, I was happy to see that by age 50 he has become a complete human being. He attributes finding his true self to me, the one who pointed the way for him, but he's the one that did it. The child Eric was bouncing off the walls constantly and watching tv at the same time. He lived in the television throughout his childhood. I liked him as a kid, but couldn't get him away from the television long enough to get to know him. I saw a real person in there and set out over the years to draw it out into the open.

I've been hard on him like a parent sometimes, hard on him like a friend. He was a difficult teenager. Through his twenties he was a wreck. Started self-examination in his thirties and came through fascinated by what he was discovering in New Age wisdom passing through, took up with Laura and is now getting on with his life in Portlandia. I'm happy to see him living a good life by his own terms now. Eric is good people. I'm happy he's my friend. It is interesting to me to watch somebody grow up, then when he's grown up, to hear him tell his life that I didn't see at all. It was the difference between objective and subjective. I was looking at his life from outside himself, and he was telling me the story of his life from inside himself. It was like reading William Faulkner.

So I'm back in cyberworld after some time away. I didn't take the laptop to continue while away from home, but it was in the time blogger wasn't working and there was nothing I could do but question whether I'm ready to let this everyday writing go. I didn't feel like I was, but after the wordpress experience, came to the conclusion that I have no choice but to let it go. I get up this morning and like a miracle it's working. I find after deciding to let it go, which I did not feel good about, having it back is a good, happy feeling. That tells me that I do, indeed, intend to carry on.


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Thursday, September 27, 2012

STREET DOGS AND THE BLACK BLIND MAN --- A POEM

stray dog by daido moriyama




The hair on the eartips of one dog turns back.

He looks like a wind god standing in his element.

Another dog, whose head sags under its own weight,

is so covered with mange and crusted dirt

it seems a chunk of earth rose and walked away.

The others are slow street dogs too weak

to run with the furious packs at night.

They push along behind the blind man who sells brooms,

nosing the sidewalks charted in his brain.

His old broad-knuckled hand grips patiently the cane's handle

as the point waves heart-beat taps all day on the concrete.

He shuffles rigid as stone feeling each step for the void.

The dogs follow with the same assurance as the cane that leads.

They know the darkness in his eyes is lonelier

than eating from a garbage can or running from a flying rock.

No one kicks them when they walk with him.

They prowl in the light under the black moon of his face.


                                                   ---TJ Worthington








Thursday, September 20, 2012

CAN"T WRITE

     franz kline, 1957




I can't write tonight. I put down a phrase and then it shuts down. I write another phrase and it shuts down. If I stop more than 2 or 3 seconds between letters the cursor goes away and I have to wait for it to come back. Of course, it's not doing it now. This new something or other is another one of those if-it-aint-broke-don't-fix-it. It worked very well before. Now it's replaced and the new replacement does not work. To go on means allowing myself to go into the zone of cussing a storm. I don't feel like doing that. Until a few days ago I had a way to get back to the old way that's been replaced by a new way that doesn't work. So now I'm stuck with something that doesn't work. It hasn't been working for months, but until now I've had access to the old way. No more. I can't go on writing if I have to go on like this. It's driving me nucking futs.


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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

@ SELMA'S COFFEE SHOP SPARTA

          franz kline



This morning I was getting ready to drive to town. It started raining. Then it rained harder, and harder. Kept it up. I started getting restless like waiting for water to boil. I said: This is the day I get wet. And walked to the car, soaked from the knees down by the time I reached it. Naturally, a leaf stem fixed itself under the wiper on the driver side, right in the middle where it leaves the curve streak across the glass exactly in my field of vision. Like with the wet, just another inconvenience, no big deal on a day of inconveniences. In town, cars, pickups and trucks lined all the way to the other end of town out of sight both directions. Cars parked in every parking spot in Sparta. This is what happens when it rains. It's like everybody goes to Sparta. Oh boy, it's raining, let's go to Sparta. It's like the harder it rains the more cars are in town. I found a place to park and went into the coffee shop. The rain stopped. Had a cup of Zambian coffee.


Friday when I was in there late in the day, Johnny Violin and his wife Lisa deMilo came in. They are here from Miami. I think he is Czech and she is Cuban. Retired stage people. He had an orchestra of violins in Miami, cotillion dance music. They have opened for all the big names like Sinatra, Tony Bennett and the whole list. They are in their 80s and exhibit the freedoms of 80 year olds. They got into a back and forth comedy routine, just talking, but having fun at it. I was hearing Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca. I mentioned the likeness. They broke out laughing. Both said, He got it! It's like one of those things they put on facebook that you click like and share if you recognize it, something from the 50s like a clothespin. I hesitated a split-second before I said it, not certain how she would she would take to the Imogene Coca likeness. Lisa took it as I meant it, a great comedienne. I've been interested to watch her when she's in a big crowd of people, like a wine-tasting at the coffee shop on a Friday night. When Lisa wants everybody's attention, she has it right now. She has that kind of a command of the people around her. You might say she's aware of her context.


The new coffee shop, two doors up the street from the original, is much bigger, but does not feel less cozy. It's just bigger. Same good feeling. It's an intimate feeling. At the same time, a group of people can be sitting around a table talking and no one anywhere else will hear them. Conversations around the place will be more private in that there is more space. I can't say it feels better than the other place, because it feels the same. Just bigger.





Tuesday, September 18, 2012

BOB DYLAN'S TEMPEST



     bob dylan, 1998
 
 
Listening to Bob Dylan's new project, TEMPEST. I went into it curious to see if it would be up there with his last four albums that I think of as his very finest, wondering if he could sustain five in a row. What a ridiculous question. It's Bob Dylan. He's an artist and artists don't always do even work, though sometimes they do, and Dylan mostly does. Dylan is in his maturity now, in the time of his life when he has made so much music over the last more than fifty years he has become his music. He's been top dog since his first album. He was the Elvis of the college set through the Sixties. Throughout my adult life Dylan has been making music. I found his music at the time of his third or fourth album. I was 21. I wasn't tuned into the NY folk scene of the time from high school in Wichita, Kansas. I found his first three albums in a discount bin at one of the big box stores before Walm-rat in West of the Ashley Charleston SC. Bought one, took it home, listened to it, went back and bought the other two. Suddenly I was listening to Bob Dylan. I'd never heard anybody like him. He expressed the angst of my generation. That's where so many of us tapped into him, our teenage and post-teenage angst we shared collectively through the Fifties and the Sixties.
 
The title track, Tempest, is an account of the sinking of the Titanic. This is the third time I've heard it. Each time, it wasn't long into the song that it pulled all my attention into it until I sit here and listen to an epic song by the master. It's one of his epics like the The Masters of War, The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll, Hurricane. Tempest is the story of "the watchman's" dream.
 
He dreamed the Titanic was sinking into the deep blue sea.
 
The orchestra was playing songs of faded love.
 
The next song starts lightly, softly as if coming up from the bottom of the sea, his voice starts the song Roll On John. As almost every time I've put on a new Dylan album it has been an amazement to my ears, to my mind, to my heart. This is Dylan the mature artist. He has made albums of poetry put to music, acoustic at first, then electric, over half a century. I attribute to Dylan the change from rock & roll to rock. It was rock & roll until Dylan went electric; he came on with a new sound and that new sound was rock. His rock has evolved through Like A Rolling Stone, the 70s where he rocked us good, A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall. Now he plays with bands of seasoned musicians, always has, but this time a lot of old guys that look like they play dance clubs. Charlie Sexton is credited with guitar on this new album. Dylan has relaxed his rock almost into dance club music based in Fifties rock & roll, Dylan's own synthesis of American music. He has become the embodiment of American music.
 
I can't be the only one who sees that Dylan really needs to be up for the Nobel Prize and probably is. He is among the great American poets. To miss giving the Prize to Dylan will be like James Joyce and Leo Tolstoy not getting it. Ultimately, it's not important. It could harm him. It could set him free and launch him to a new level. The Austrailian writer Patrick White got his Nobel, then wrote The Eye Of The Storm, a story that made it clear White was indeed worthy of the Nobel. It put him on a new plane artistically.
 
Last night I heard you talking in your sleep
saying things you hadn't oughta say
maybe you'll have to go to jail some day.
 
I'll pay in blood, but not my own.
 
Hold your tongue and feed your eyes.
 
His bands over the last several years have had the tone of a dance hall band you might have heard in New Orleans before the flood. They can load a big auditorium with sound as good as any of the loudest ones, too. It even sounds like Dylan would like to be making music with a small band that plays in urban dance clubs. He has to give big concerts because so many people want to hear him. His gentler form of rock has the freedom of black musicians in the Fifties transitioning from blues to rhythm & blues, early Ray Charles, Buddy Guy. Dylan's band for a lot of years, The Band, was such a band. Great musicians who played so well together they jammed when they made music, would have been happy playing local dance music if they hadn't went in with Ronnie Hawkins as the Hawks in the Fifties, one of the best of the 50s bands, Mary Lou their most memorable song (she took the keys to my cadillac car, she jumped in my kitty and she drove afa-ar). Later, they got up with Dylan and became the Band. They had that solid rock & roll foundation Dylan has always liked. Dylan has transcended rock the way he transcended folk, though without the shockwave. He sounds like he's making music now, music without a name other than music. It's what he's always done. He's never given himself over to one kind of music. He's always been elusive to pigeon-holing. He plays whatever works with the song in his head. And I can hear, too, that with the right sound equipment these people could blow the roof off.
 
All through Bob Dylan's career I have admired his integrity as a man. I'm not interested in what he's like as somebody to know. My part is in his audience, not to be a voyeur into his private life. His life is his songs, the words, the music, his musicianship as a guitar player, as a composer as well as the songwriter all other songwriters aspire to. A few weeks ago I heard on news that Hal David died, who had "the best songbook of the last fifty years." I laughed out loud. What about Lucinda Williams? Pointless to even think about it. It caught my attention in this time of hearing the Absurd on the news every day. Dylan's song Tempest is an American epic like Laurie Anderson's album Life On A String about the White Whale. The part I love the best hearing a Dylan album, any of them, is the musicianship in all the musicians is stellar. Every song is a satisfying piece of music. This is why I and so many others have loved Dylan over half a century, he makes satisfying music consistently. He has never locked down into one style. He's kept on changing and moving forward. Dylan is the artist of my generation I appreciate most fully. Sam Shepherd in there too when it comes to his integrity as an artist. Dylan's body of work is several book-length volumes of songs, every title an exceptionally good worded song and equally good music to accompany it. Dylan rules.
 
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Sunday, September 16, 2012

PRIVILEGED LIVING

     air bellows gap road



I was just now reading what I'd written yesterday on fundamentalism. It carried me through those early phases of the life in my mind, the sentences triggering memories. It concluded with hearing the birds all day and the katydids and tree frogs after dark. Finishing that sentence, I felt overwhelmed by privilege. I've lived my life in poverty, my greatest ambition being to stay out of prison. That's something to pay attention to in America. The legal system gets a sadistic kick out of putting people in prison with long sentences. I don't think it's right, but I can't change it, so I walk the line. The legal system also knows what American prison is like. It's like throwing people to the gladiators. That's the dark side. So I do my best to keep on the sunny side of life, even though it's not always daylight. The sunny side doesn't mean I can't be saddened that American boys like me just out of high school, dumb as a rock, can't find a job, got no experience, and military is the American male right of passage. Go to Afghanistan, WoW, gonna kick some ass. Boom. Your legs are blown off. VA hospital. Home with mom and dad taking care of you the rest of their lives, them keeping themselves in poverty paying for an expensive insurance policy to keep you when they're gone. Then, of course, you have to take the insurance corporation to court because they refuse to pay unless you sue for it. That kind of intimidation is part of the plan.

Back to the privilege of hearing birds and insects. I feel privileged because none of the above has happened to me. I feel privileged that I live outside the maelstrom that civilization has become. In the words of an Alternate Roots song that Willard sang Friday night, A Million Miles From The City. Even though the interstate runs nearby and and it's a straight line to the city, a crooked line to another city, cities in all directions, it's the same as a million miles to the city, because I don't even like to cross the county line anymore. I love where I am so much and don't have a great deal of time left, I'm jealous of time here on this spot on Waterfall Road. And Caterpillar is the last of my lifetime of pets. I want to be here with her all the time. Every day is precious. I'm privileged to have learned through the course of my adult life to communicate with the "dumb" animals, dumb only in that they can't speak verbally. It is a privilege to be able to know an individual cat or dog as the "person" within, not just something you feed and clean up after. I like their uncluttered minds. I feel privileged for my experience in the community of the mountain people, privileged to be received as a naturalized citizen.

Another problem I had with Kansas was its scant and boring history. Cowtowns, Jesse James and killing Indians. A Kansas historian would go apeshit reading that summation and call me retarded. He'd be right. They didn't teach Kansas history in any school I went to. I don't think there are many states that teach the state's history in the public school. It's one of those subjects that is automatically dismissed like art history. So we memorize names of generals and dates of wars to pass the history test. I liked about South Carolina and North Carolina that they had histories. They were Southern states, the Confederacy where my heart pulled me ever since third grade when I read a child's biography of Robert E Lee. It woke up something in me that must have been sleeping inside. The South had a mystique for me that grew with time until it was time to bale out of Kansas. Where to? The South. It was like coming home living in South Carolina. In high school I liked Duane Eddy's song, Mason Dixon Lion. The South I fell in love with was not the South as it is, but an idea, a fantasy, a place where I felt one with its history that I knew nothing about except losing the Civil War.

I feel privileged to have lived in and to be living in the world of mountain music. WPAQ AM radio that Ralph Epperson started in 1948, the radio station in the next county, Surry, that only plays mountain music is as important to my way of understanding mountain music as the Bristol Sessions. I understand WPAQ is online now. My mechanic keeps the radio playing in his shop all day with WPAQ playing. His AM reception was not very good; he had to keep the radio in the window for listenable reception. He plays the station online now with excellent reception. It is only on the air during the daylight hours. Sometimes it is playing gospel, sometimes preaching, sometimes people talking, and mountain music from mostly the Central Blue Ridge. They still play the Carter Family, Emory Arthur, the Blue Sky Boys, Roy Acuff and current mountain music like the Slate Mountain Ramblers, Whitetop Mountain Band, Alternate Roots, Crooked Road Ramblers, Rock Mountain Ramblers, Ralph Stanley and all the rest of them. When a band self-produces a cd, they send one to the station. WPAQ's library of mountain music is extensive. Ralph Epperson used to tape live shows on Saturday mornings at the theater in MtAiry and gave all his tapes to the NC folklife center. What a treasure those tapes are for the future of Appalachian folklife studies.

I don't listen to the station much because I get no reception at the house and occasional reception in the eastern half of the county by car. And always forget it's online. When I want to hear mountain music, I put on a cd. Whatever I put on of mountain music takes over my focus. Earlier I put on some music by Kevin Fore (banjo) and Kirk Sutphin (fiddle). From the first notes I was fixed, couldn't do anything but listen. In the time of the AM stations in the mountains, each one played to its own county, the county lines about as far as reception goes, except for odd things like I've heard Sparta's AM station could be picked up in N Wilkesboro. I'm privileged that I was able to dj a weekly radio show on WCOK AM, Sparta, Saturday mornings, The Backwoods Beat Music Hour for seven years. Theme song was a solo bluegrass banjo playing Billy In The Lowground with a background fiddle drone. I feel tremendous privilege that I had the opportunity to play mountain music to mountain people in my home county, the county next to WPAQ. I love that. I don't know how many listeners I had, maybe a few hundred, maybe less, maybe more. I never talked up the radio show, because it was for people who love mountain music, not for people who say it all sounds like the same song over and over. I figured the people who wanted to hear it would find it. It didn't matter how many. I'd have been as happy with 3 as with 300. It was for people who love the music, not for numbers.

One of the greatest privileges of all, the one where I started noticing the feeling of privilege, and feel privilege every week that I simply know about the Friday night music at Willard Gayheart's gallery and frame shop, the Front Porch. For a couple years seldom more than 20 people in the audience, usually between 12 and 15. We were the ones who went every week we could make it. By now we all know each other. Now that it is a Crooked Road Venue attendance has doubled and tripled ever since. It's between 40 and 60 now. Minnie the cat can't give up her seat if she wants it back. Before, she could jump to the floor and walk around during the music looking at the people, sizing up the crowd, this her home, walking among the legs, then find a new place to curl up. It's not like that any more. When she gets up, somebody sits down. The first privilege is just knowing about it. Then many rings of privilege out from that; knowing the people I've come to know there, having Scott, Willard, Edwin, Dori, Jill, Steve for my friends, people I have heart feeling with, people I respect way high up, every one of them. Basically, it's looking like my entire life in the mountains has been one of feeling privilege, the privilege of living in a really beautiful culture almost nobody outside it knows about. Living among the mountain people as my own is the privilege I value perhaps most.


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FUNDAMENTALISM ON THE LINE


          robert ryman, untitled



For the fun of it, I went to youtube and found INNOCENCE OF MUSLIMS, the short "movie" that is getting American embassies burned and people killed, threatened, maimed, Anglo people, non-muslims. The film really is outrageous. The most outrageous is that is sooo baaaad, and not a Pink Flamingos kind of bad. It is worse than those absurd Bible story films I saw under duress in summer Bible school, early 1950s in b&w. They were made by adults for kids and kids couldn't stand them. Anyway, I couldn't. A bunch of white people dressed up like Middle Easterners of several millennia ago orating simple sentences like they're the greatest words ever spoken, they're Bible. This film is one more bit of evidence that the Middle Eastern conflicts can be called the Fundamentalist Wars. Islamic fundies vs. Baptist fundies. Fox News represents Baptist fundamentalism that has left the realm of the Spirit and taken up politics with Rush Limbaugh the high priest. My mother tells me Baptist is not a "religion," which I already knew, but she didn't mean it that way. I call it a religion separate from Christendom, a religion unto itself as it has no connection with compassion, love, caring for the poor. Jesus himself said going by rules and regulations is not it. What do the Baptists care? The self-called preachers know better. To keep it clear, this is my own subjective experience, not somebody else's.


I saw on a news clip the guy responsible for the film has been taken into custody. Probably for his protection. He needs to be charged with being stupid. But in this time Stupid is a badge of honor, something to be proud of. The Islamic fundamentalists can't be any brighter than the American fundamentalists; they act the same where belief in absolutes is concerned. The hilarity is that if Islamists made a 15 minute video of Jesus as embodiment of the seven deadly sins and such a lout as this absurd film made Mohammed, the Christians wouldn't even notice. It's like: somebody white says nigger and black people hit the ceiling; somebody black says white motherfucker and nobody white notices. Of course, we've had something on the order of democracy where freedom of expression is the order, meaning we hear all kinds of things, pick and choose for ourselves and let the rest go. Islamists, like Baptists, think in absolutes: I'm right--you're wrong. Never any thought of questioning, searching, seeking, allowing others their own beliefs. That's what the mission field is about, teaching the heathens what they're supposed to believe. The Baptist religion still thinks in 19th Century colonialist terms; which is to say, the religion has no future. It is locked down in the past and will not make it through the transition from the Age of Fire into the Age of Electricity. These fundamentalist wars appear to be clearing out that old way of thinking that is not productive any more in constructive ways. The fundamentalists have taken on the role of the Destroyer.


I'm still laughing over that yo-yo in the Kansas legislature, the state that voted to keep Evolution out of the public school curriculum, calling for assassination of the president according to the Bible. Is this not the most telling evidence that we are in the time of the Absurd. We laugh like crazy at absurd humor. I have a difficult time inside myself with my Kansas past; K-10 in Kansas City, Kansas, and 10-12 in Wichita, a city I never learned to like. Allen Ginsberg found something there in one of his major verses, Wichita Vortex Sutra. His world in Wichita was very different from mine. He hung with the college crowd, the dope smokers; I was in high school going to football and basketball games like they were important, church, barely able to read with minimal comprehension, getting through school like a donkey led by a ring in the nose. Keeping up with what's required. Just like a job. Just like everyday life. The churches I came up in were the worst. The church in KC, Calvary Bible Church, fundamentalist by self-definition. The preacher was an intelligent Baptist preacher. I respected him all the way along. Respected him more, as a man, than I knew at the time. The preacher at the church in Wichita by now I've forgotten his name and the name of the church. He was the greatest betrayer of my trust of my life. He taught me never to trust a preacher. I don't even make an effort to remember that time in my life. It is full of memories that make me remember why I was so happy to leave that city, and the state with it. These are entirely my own subjective (karmic) experiences. Other people have other experiences.


In Kansas, they think the South is backward. I went to Charleston, South Carolina, in the last years of the Old South, saw there the last days of the old ways, the same as living in the mountains, came here in time to see the passing of the old ways. In that way I feel culturally privileged. From South Carolina I looked back at Kansas as backward. From the mountains I look back at Kansas as backward. I made it through the Kansas period, alas the formative period, not without a lot of internal damage. Leaving Wichita and Kansas, I was leaving my past, erasing it as I went along like a math teacher's blackboard. I came to life in Charleston at the College of Charleston. Didn't do anything special, got the education I needed at a small school that didn't cost an arm and two legs, about two-thirds of the faculty incredibly bright and a third not so bright. The College was still in the OId South my first three years. I loved the opportunity to become acquainted with the Old South from the inside. In like manner, I love the opportunity to know the old-time mountain culture in its last years. In both places, seeing the new culture of television coming in was worthy of some sorrow, like watching Wal-marts come in. But I remember my attorney friend of several years ago, Lorne Campbell. He was one of my peep-holes into the world of the mountains before electricity. He said, "The mountains need new blood." They do.


I hear Kansas fundamentalism in the news and it gives me the shivers. The really funny part for me is that from the Kansas fundamentalist perspective, the old-time mountain Baptist churches, the Primitive and the Regular, are backwards, need to come up to date. My mother, after an experience in one, called it, "That ridiculous church you go to." My thought: I was thinking the same thing about yours. What she took for ridiculous was that it was not fundamentalist full of fire and hell to keep the flock from nodding off. Her religion made an atheist of me. At first, I thought it was by reaction. That must have been the initial boot kick to get me out of it. It had no life for me. No living spirit. Patti Smith just now sang in my head, "What's the church but rules and regulations TO ME, TO ME." Simply put, Kansas fundamentalism made an atheist of me because I simply did not believe it. I believed the core, the Jesus part, but from there on it was all false and negativity piled on top of negativity. Had nothing to do with love. I never once felt a pixel of love come from any of those three churches I was dragged through. And I came to see that God prefers an honest atheist to a hypocritical Christian. I know it is not this way for everyone. This is entirely my own subjective, karmic experience. Since I've lived under my own power, I am happy with the places I've lived. Loved Charleston, love the mountains.


My Baptist friends think I am brutal when I get on that subject. They say, "My church is not like that. We have a lot of love where I go." And they're right. I would like to say pretty things about it, but have none to say. So I keep up the reminder that this writing is only from the point of view of subjective experience. My experience is my own. Your experience is your own. We draw difference conclusions from our experiences. When I found myself a baby on Meher Baba's lap saying, "dada," I was happy the Baptist religion had spit me out. Therefore, it's a good thing, all of it. My karma. Looking back over the path of my life, it has all been a matter of self-healing. This is why I've never joined society or whatever it's called, because of my life's mission to heal the wounds from the Kansas era of my life. It wasn't that it was just Kansas or Baptist church, either. That was just the context. Venus is my guiding planet. It means I require beautiful surroundings where I live. I thought Charleston was beautiful, and the mountains the apex of beauty where I can hear katydids and tree frogs chirping in the trees outside the open door at night and bird song all day.


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Saturday, September 15, 2012

SKEETER AND THE SKIDMARKS DO IT TO IT AGAIN

    scott freeman, edwin lacy, sandy mason grover, willard gayheart
 
 
Good music in the air above Woodlawn, Virginia, again. Skeeter and the Skidmarks played at the Fiddle and Plow show, now a Crooked Road venue. Pulling in to park, a car with a Texas tag parked beside me. The driver looked confused, uncertain. I'd never seen him before, so I assumed they were puzzled by the entrance to Willards gallery and frame shop. I spoke and asked if they needed help. He said he wasn't sure if this was the place. He and his wife had met Willard and Scott on Thursday and Willard and Bobby Patterson on Tuesday at the Blue Ridge Music Center. Turned out they were from Butte, Montana, and rented the car in Texas. He was wondering about the show at the Rex theater from 8 to 10, which one would be the better show, this one with Skeeter and the Skidmarks or the Rex. I didn't know what band was playing at the Rex. I told him whatever band is playing there, the best it could be would be the equal of Skeeter. I can't say Skeeter is the best around, but no matter what is at the Rex, I believe they will be totally satisfied hearing Skeeter. They came in and loved it. Steve was his name. At the end of the show I asked, "Are you satisfied you heard some music?" He was beaming. His wife was too.
 
 
Tonight's show was especially a good one. Every time Skeeter plays, we who go regularly know some good music will be made, the music is dynamic. Tonight's especially. Every time Skeeter plays, they've played differently from any time before. Scott told me during the intermission that a friend of his who works with audio equipment helped him set the mics and tune the amplifier to max advantage given the nature of the space, not a good one for good sound. I told Scott that for the first time I've heard Willard's guitar playing. Willard is a great rhythm guitar picker, and his guitar seldom comes through the sound system very well until tonight. Tonight I spent a lot of time listening to Willard's guitar. It looks simple what he's doing, but hearing it reveals quite a lot. I've known he was a fairly complex picker, and tonight heard it very well. Willard sang a song from an Alternate Roots album, A Million Miles To The City. He sings it just right. Speaking before the song he told of growing up in the eastern Kentucky mountains where the nearest city was the same as a million miles away. Every time he sings I Love You Nelly, about half the audience sings along, including me. I laugh at myself knowing the words to I Love You Nelly and really liking the song.
 
 
Edwin tore up his banjo tonight. It was like it was Edwin's night. He made that thing sing and cluck and all that a banjo does. His style of clawhammer picking, which is entirely his own, has such a good sound. It's a solid rhythm he keeps going and rings it all up and down the frets. Edwin picks banjo with soul, soul on the order of Ralph Stanley's got soul. Hillbilly soul. He has soul in the pulpit too, and he sings with soul. It's not Aretha Franklin soul, but old-time hillbilly soul. He sang Little Black Pony, one of his favorites. He sings it like he wrote it. He picked up Gentle On My Mind from John Hartford, who composed the tune for clawhammer. I've never been a Glen Campbell fan, so the song never said much to me. Until I heard Edwin play it and sing it. He picks and sings the song with the reverence he feels for John Hartford's picking, for Hartford's ear. Edwin took another song that never spoke to me, The Theme From Dr Zhivago, made a clawhammer tune of it. Willard introduces the song with a story of the first time he met Edwin when Willard was judging a fiddler's convention. The rule was only traditional Appalachian tunes. Edwin at age 17 played Theme From Dr Zhivago. Willard thought it was the best banjo he'd ever heard, wanted to give him first place, but had to disqualify him for not playing a traditional tune. He got the biggest laugh of the night. Edwin made it new.
 
 
Scott was all over his mandolin again and the fiddle. He and Edwin played together quite a lot. They have a sound together, throw in Willard's masterful rhythm guitar and Sandy's excellent bass using the bow at just the right times, and you have Skeeter and the Skidmarks. This may be the sixth or seventh time they've played at the Front Porch, Willard's gallery and frame shop. Every time is unique. They play the same collection of songs, but each time is with an energy of its own. One time they played folk style with everyone in the band sitting down. This time was a pretty hard driving sound, really going after it. The sound system was the best ever, so much better it makes me wonder why we were so satisfied before. It was good before. It just has an edge now of hearing each instrument a little bit more articulately. This is part of what tells me these people are master musicians, the way they can play a collection of songs different every time they play. It's not radically different. Some may not notice much difference, but I hear a different approach every Skeeter show. I have loved every show.
 
 
Something I hear Skeeter doing is jazzing old-time. Bill Monroe jazzed old-time, too. Monroe's style of jazzing old-time became bluegrass. Scott, Willard, Edwin and Sandy jazz old-time in their own style. It's not bluegrass they do, but their own jazz versions of old-time. When Skeeter takes an old song, like Whiskey Before Breakfast, they "Skeeterize" it. That is, they jazz it their own way. Scott told me some years ago a reviewer of early Skeeter music called it "Progressive old-time." I have to agree that's the closest one can get to naming what they do when they're making music. I take it that "progressive" means the same as what I call jazzing the old songs. It is a joy to all present when Skeeter and the Skidmarks play. They give off a joyous vibration. That is the vibration of mountain music. Joy. I see joy on faces in the place during the intermission, everybody lit up. Then at the end after 2 hours of the music, everyone is lighter than air. Big smiles on everyone's faces, the kind of big smiles that take over your face on their own. With that inner joy beaming forth a face can't do anything but smile big. It feels good to be in a place where everybody is happy.  
 
      minnie the cat
    
 
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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

IDIOTS RULE

     eva hesse, 1962

Flipping through some headlines I see a Baptist preacher in Florida is now calling for assassination publicly, using the Bible for backup. Then there was that yo-yo in Kansas legislature calling for assassination of the president, using the Bible. Get it? Does anybody get it? This is what I mean when I say the Baptist attention given to the dark side they call Satan has now taken over their behavior. Shooting doctors is sanctioned by the religion same as using the Bible to publicly call for assassination of the president. This tells me what I knew back in the last half of the 1950s that the Baptist religion was giving its power to Satan and now I see the results. On tv you have evangelists with hair two feet high on the women and bad, really bad toupees on the men, and covered in gold and gawdy clothes, both men and women, preaching about Jesus, dreaming of gold toilet and bathtub fixtures like Tammy Faye. Now that the Baptists are given the illusion of power by Karl Rove's Tea Party, their colors are showing and they aint pretty. What's going to happen is they will self-consume and be no more. They have gone over to the dark side and that's the end of that. They'll be after political power now that the dark is their light.


I can see now coming to fruition what I saw back then listening to preachers preaching politics, anti-communism, still locked in colonialism, preaching No, Don't and You Better Not. Love? Who ever heard of love? It's a four-letter word, only to be spoken with quotation marks and a disclaimer. Now that ignorance has been unleashed and given political power in the republican party, backed with billions of dollars from pockets of corporate wealth that want to keep the proles ignorant, like Gore Vidal said, "We're out of business." Perry Ferrell's song, Idiot's Rule, especially applies now. It's one of those sayings like It was the best of times and it was the worst of times. It fits any and every time. Idiots rule is as universal as willful ignorance. I have to confess that in the days since the political conventions I've been somewhat concerned about election outcomes. The Supremes unleashed corporate billions to support republicans, knowing that the candidate spending the most money wins consistently. Pray for exceptions? Sure. Go ahead. If those muthas buy Romney in, I'll be all the more glad I'm on the edge looking into the other side.


The night of the Dem convention I talked with Ted Stern on the phone, him in Charleston. I asked if he was watching the convention. No, he laughed, he was watching football. He's 99, what does he care about the next administration, what it turns out to be? I hear Baptists and other right wing minded people I know saying in seriousness that if Obama wins we're going down the drain. Maybe white racism will, that precious institution that defines USA more than apple pie or baseball. I'm cracking up that this election seems to be bringing racism out from under the denial it's been covered by since the Repo party became the racist party. It was the Demos, then the Dixiecrats, then the Repos. In my lifetime. Now racism is out in the open again. Get the nigger! That's the Repo key (unspoken) words this election. Remember, the Repo party does not need to win an election for the Supremes to give it to them. The Supremes brought us the Bush-Cheney-Rummy-Rice Junta against the will of democracy. Cocaine money brought us the Reagan Junta. These two juntas put an end to democracy in America. The sad part for me is seeing how happy the American people are to be done with it.


Why should I care? I don't have a great deal of future left either. I can count on not being subject for very long to whatever comes next. Police state. That's it. With or without Obama, Police state is it. I don't want to live in Police state for very long. Probably won't. If it gets really bad, like bringing troops home and turning them inward on the American people, I really don't care to be a witness to it. I can just stop taking medications. I pray for next lifetime to be someplace else, not Somalia either, please. I'd just as soon be born into a Tibetan refugee village in eastern India as anyplace. I have loved the USofA all my life and happily claim it as home and I believe in doing my part to further its well-being. It turns out this is self-destruct time. Even though I understand the wheel of fortune, what goes up must come down, it hurts to see it fall, undermined by ignorance, like rot at the base of a big oak tree's trunk. USA ran way up in international power at the end of WW2 when the other powers were compromised. Alas, USA, which calls itself a Christian nation, has no ethical foundation to stand on and did not have what it took to sustain power. In its time of power-over the rest of the world, it has only been a tyrant to poor nations of color. If USA is a Christian nation, why does it hate the poor so much? That's not Jesus-sanctioned behavior. I think he'd say, "I know ye not."

Now that ignorance is the theme of our time, there is no telling what we'll be seeing. It gets stranger every day. Not a day goes by that I don't hear something totally outrageous some ignorant American who would do best to learn to keep his mouth shut and pay attention to old country wisdom--keep it shut and nobody will know how ignorant you are. This is the time for ignorance to take voice and soar like the Valkyries in Apocalypse Now, "Scares the hell out of the slopes and my men love it!" This really is the time of the Absurd. Art indeed precedes life by half a century. The works of Pinter, Ionesco, Beckett and others presaged the time we're in now, the time of the Absurd. TV news itself is theater of the Absurd. Most interesting right now it seems like is the break down of systems that hold fast to absolutes, religion. Absolutes as belief system is over. We haven't done absolutes in a long time. These are the last days/years of that kind of thinking. Religion and politics are the holdouts that time is catching up with. It's looking like their time is now. Both have gone off into absurd and find their satisfaction there. Whatever.


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Monday, September 10, 2012

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE


     civil ensign of the cayman islands



I have a question that I cannot find an answer for, primarily because I'm not involved in circumstances where I could see it more closely than I do. I have an idea, however, the answer is kind of easy, using the movie detective device, follow the money. The question: Why are the corporations so dead set on destroying American Democracy and the American people? They've already destroyed both. It may not look like it yet to some, but in ten years it will be a documentary on the History channel, The Decline And Fall Of Democracy In America. It was the Southern California / Arizona / Texas right wing cancer / dark cabal that took power from the American people and turned it over to the corporate CEO hierarchy. All our laws are passed with corporate support, never without; mostly, however, with corporate deception. Our government operates by deception and the corporations operate by deception. It tells me straight up they are not interested in our well being at all. Just look at the republican party's agenda. Instead of Up With People, it's Up The People.

Corporations have arranged it so they don't pay taxes and they get billions per in government handouts, what the cartoonists are calling corporate welfare. China has the solution. Tax the corporations and use the money to the well being of the people, health care and other public benefits like infrastructure, military, government employees. Here, we the people pave the way for the corporations to run over us and pass us off as road kill. Collateral damage. Whatever. But the corporations fly the Cayman Islands flag on their yachts, not Old Glory. Those little islands have become something of an Ayn Rand haven off the coast of Cuba. A whole lot of white rich people and a whole lot of poor black servants. It might be fun to look at Cayman Islands on Google Earth, count the golf courses and swimming pools. A woman used to live here, she might still be living, though a widow to a man who drove a new gold Cadillac every year and lived year round at the Cayman Islands, evidently with a mistress, in the stock broker world there, while his wife lived at a country club here where the white people were. She came from South Georgia; she don't think too much of darkies. They made her nervous.

Throughout my lifetime I've had a driving curiosity to know all different kinds of people. Possibly it came from growing up in a world of sameness, church every day it wasn't school, Kansas, Fifties television and pop radio it for "culture." The Ed Sullivan show taught me opera singers sound like dying calves. It wasn't until I heard the beginnings of rock and roll that I felt stirred by an art form. Had no idea of art forms before. I knew there were paintings of Mona Lisa and Impressionists, but thought it beyond reach conceptually and in every other way. It had no reality in my life. Then one day when I was 18 I saw a painting by Dali in the modern art museum in Chicago of giraffes with fire on their necks like manes. That was the first unforgettable work of art that caught my attention and pushed my awe button. I wanted to see more Dali. Found a book of Dali, bought it, was blown away utterly by what I was seeing. At the same time in my life, I discovered the poetry of Robinson Jeffers. The first time I stayed up all night reading was the night of the day I bought the Vintage paperback copy of Robinson Jeffers' Selected Poems. Every one of them spoke to me. No other poet has taken me over to the degree he did.

After discovering Dali, my developing interest in art led me to Pop that was happening then, mid Sixties. Pop and abstract expressionism pulled me into interest in art of the 20th century, going to NY to see museums. Every city I go to I find the modern art museum. It's the only thing I ever want to see in any city. By now, my head is so full of so many incredibly beautiful images in painting and sculpture that I've laid eyes on in person, I feel satisfied by now that I've seen a good bit of modernist painting from Impressionists to Conceptualism (Modern period) and beyond into Post-modern and whatever being done now is called. Salvador Dali was the first artist to reel me in. I have an idea I am not the only one. Several years ago, 36 years, I was showing a book of abstract expressionist paintings to a friend who quit school after 8th grade, knew nothing about any kind of art. Looking at the pictures, he was enchanted, saying frequently, "You mean people are finally painting like this?" I said, "Yeah, he (the artist he was exclaiming over) was painting when Old Man Tom was a kid, the generation of our grandparents. He's dead of old age now." "No way!!!"

This crazy time we're in now makes me want to jump ahead to the future when the time of the Revelations prophecy has run its course. I want to be in that thousand years of peace that follows this nut-case time we're in. No more militarist thinking. What a great leap for the male gender. A chance to develop as conscious human beings instead of obedient warriors marching in lock step for an idea of control. To get that time of peace, the trouble-maker in the world that keeps peace from happening will have to be subdued by the rest of the world, perhaps like Germany and Japan after WW2. Before, they were the aggressors that kept war going wherever their pointed their focus. Now USA is doing the same thing, arm in arm with Israel, backing up Israel's arrogance as big brother. I'm wondering if at the end of this WW3 the USA will be on its knees, not allowed to have a military like Germany and Japan. Guns rounded up by Interpol and Americans as warriors shut down. It's the only way we're going to have any peace in the world. Anyway, that's how it looks. But it looks all kinds of ways. This is just one.

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

RELIGULOUS AGAIN

 


Earlier in the day I heard a radio announcement about a debate, or whatever, between two people on the question: Is the USA a Christian nation? My first thought, What's there to talk about? The talk would be between a preacher and an atheist, their opinions. They told time and day. I made it a point not to hear them. I did not want to know, unless maybe to avoid it. Opinions between a preacher and an atheist? All I could think was What a laugh. Brings up a somewhat documentary film I saw of Bill Maher going around to religious places and talking with religious people of all varieties. Not one was worth listening to. The film was called RELIGULOUS. Of course, ridiculous: religious. I watched it all the way through. After a certain point, the point where I used to think, it can only get better, by now experience has taught me it never gets better, I leave a concert or turn off a movie. Bill Maher lost his charm for me in that film. He showed me he, himself, is ridiculous. Yes, he's smarter than the dumbest people on the planet. Hooray. There came a time very early on in the film where I was wondering why, after a certain point when the director must have seen it was going nowhere, they kept on making it. The director had already rounded up producers and the money to make it with, so they'd just as well go on and spend the money.

The method of newscasting that wants to give equal time to both sides of an issue turns out to be nothing at all like news, just opinions that cancel each other. How informative can that be? This is the aspect of NPR that I have a difficult time with, besides the kowtowing to the Repos threatening to cut off their funding, and doing it an axe chop at a time, systematically, the way they've been chopping at the foundation of democracy until that tree is finally down. It's funny now to see how they make a big thing of democracy like it is something precious. Used to be. Now it's just a word with a dictionary definition for kids to memorize to pass the test and the education major teacher to talk about like there is something to it. The argument I have is that assessment of any given issue is never settled, because the discussion on the matter has all been about sharing opinions. What about information? Logic? Reasoning? Good sense? Thought? Confucius. Opinions are usually sentences that either start with or might start with, By God....

An hour of listening to a preacher and an atheist, just those two nouns, the thought of them in relation to each other talking, makes me want nothing to do with it. I've experience with both and don't even see a reason to get them together, except to keep up with the trend now of getting the religions together for discussion, which is ok by me as long as it's other people doing it. The preacher in this case would have to be somebody who could converse intelligently with somebody unaccustomed to the cliches of religion, like you gotta get saved or you're gonna go to hell; just believe in the name of Jesus Christ and you'll be saved. When you're saved you gotta get baptized and join the church. Then it's your DUTY to go to church every minute the door is unlocked. Then, maybe God will put you up for consideration in the lottery of who really gets to go to heaven. Preachers first. Then, if you don't do that, or if you do that and God doesn't like you anyway, you go to hell. FOREVER. Burn in hell for all of eternity; fire, brimstone, the fiery furnace, wailing, gnashing of teeth, misery and agony, woe. Either that or browbeat everybody in your life about Jesus and the plan of salvation---don't forget Satan. It's about absolutes, which are only ideas that go nowhere to somebody from outside the flock.

Is USA a Christian nation? LOL. Who is even innocent enough to ask the question? Opinions. For every individual on earth has a different opinion, like the favorite saying around here, Opinions are like assholes: everybody's got one. I listen to some of the NPR daytime talk shows and find nothing is definitive as far as value in the way of ethics. They find somebody to say, This, then find somebody to say, That, and what we, the listeners, get from it is nothing. More evidence of what Yeats wrote in his poem, The Second Coming: the center does not hold. It's like pixels of various colors that once made an image flying off in all directions, millions of tiny squares and no substance. I'd say USA is a Christian nation in that it claims to be, the way Egypt claims to be an Islamic nation. On the surface, there being more Christian churches than any other, Christendom wins the majority contest. On the surface where politicians belong to and attend the church in town the upper middle class attends, and the churches are arranged according to status like everything else. it gets back to what Jesus said about the synagogues. Christians like to point the finger when Jesus talks about the Jews like they don't get it. What they don't see is they're doing the same thing as Christians that the Hebrews did as Jews. Jesus would say the same thing to them he said to the Jews (religionists) of his time and place.

Neither can I believe the atheist. Atheism is based in reasoning. Reasoning has limitations. It's a good tool, like a Craftsman wrench. Reasoning cannot transcend reasoning, and to find the way of the spirit it must be done. The spirit of God, which is defined over and over in scriptures as Love, is beyond reasoning, cannot be found by reasoning. Atheists tend to need ideas to be subject to reasoning. If God is Love, then looking for God by reasoning equals looking for love in all the wrong places. An atheist is locked in the reasoning box and the preacher in the supposed-to box. The only point I'd be interested to listen for in the talk is the use of the word love. I'd guess it will never be used one time, and if so, trivialized. This is why I have no confidence in such a confrontationless confrontation, or boring drama. The preacher will talk about supposed-to and the atheist will talk about reason. Back in Reagan time a silly column in the local paper, a discussion between conservative and liberal. The one from conservative was a Reagan enthusiast, fascist, and the one from liberal was so middle of the road as to be the space between the two yellow lines down the center. And his middle of the road stance was studied, believing what you're supposed to believe to be in the middle, same as the guy on the right. Called himself a liberal. The editor wouldn't let a real liberal write in the paper.

Again, I'll say American is a Christian nation only in that it wants to be thought so. Look at American behavior. Look at the behavior in DC and on the news. We are the country in the world where somebody takes military weapons and kills as many people randomly as can be done before the cops kill them. Gun world. Look at the behavior in your own world, the people you know, the people not killing each other. I'm not saying it's reprehensible, not saying it's bad, not saying it's anything but good, which most people's behavior is; going so far as to say nearly all, allowing for exceptions that prove the rule. An awful lot of people are sincerely devoted to Jesus. Then consider that the spiritual capital of America is Las Vegas. Everybody looking for free money. That's what you get when you're rich is free money. The people who boast about being Christians tend to be republicans who say things like, I don't know what socialism is, but I know it's bad. Oh really. I heard this in conversation yesterday with the Christian of Christians, my mother. I could not stop myself from saying, "How can you know it's bad if you don't know anything about it?" Pointless. Flapping my jaws. Barking to hear my head roar. I already knew the answer: the preacher sez. Atheists talk rationally and preachers talk supposed-to. One cannot communicate with the other. I don't even want to think about what might be said. The Bible sez vs Nietzsche sez. Too ridiculous. Religulous.

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

THE FIDDLE AND PLOW NOW A CROOKED ROAD VENUE

     the steve lewis trio, 17feb2012


Friday night the 7th was the induction celebration of the Fiddle & Plow series in Woodlawn becoming a venue of the Crooked Road traditional music of southern Virginia from Rocky Mount to the mountains. Crooked Road is another name for Highway 58. It really runs crooked over Mt Rogers and Whitetop. It used to be the highway from SW Virginia to Richmond in the days of Model A's. An older lawyer I once new, Lorne Campbell, whose practice was in Independence, Virginia, from 1932 until 1989, in the middle of the 1930s his dad came to visit from SanDiego. Lorne had him take the train to Abingdon. He picked him up in a Model A and drove him over back (unimproved) roads all the way to Independence. At the time he told me I took it that he was playing a prank on his dad to make him believe Lorne's circumstances were Xtreme rural. As I've grown older and more in love with these mountains the way Campbell was, I realize he was showing his city-slicker dad the beauty of the Blue Ridge from the inside. Highway 58 is a beautiful scenic highway through the southern part of Virginia, a beautiful state in all its regions.

The Crooked Road is a tourism idea to encourage attention to local music, featuring music venues along the length of the highway. The Piedmont has its own music tradition, like Charlie Poole. A book has been published with cds that play music from along the road. A venue needed to be in operation two years to become a part of the Crooked Road tour. A few months ago, the Fiddle & Plow show passed the two year mark; tonight Joe Wilson and Jack Hinschelwood, who is evidently director of the Crooked Road, presented us (audience too) a Crooked Road banner for display and talked a little bit about it. They brought with them Kenny Price, banjo picker from Mountain City, Tennessee, just across the state line. He is son of fiddler Fred Price who toured with Clint Howard, Doc Watson and Clarence Ashley in the early 1960s at universities all over the country, playing traditional music. It was Doc Watson's first recording. Old Time Music at Clarence Ashley's, a 2-lp set. On cd it is a 2-cd set called Doc Watson and Clarence Ashley, 1960-1962. It's one of my very favorite old-time albums up there with Tommy Jarrell and Kyle Creed's June Apple and Whitetop Mountain Band's Bull Plus 10%. Can't leave out The Bell Spur String Band. Fred Price's fiddle on that album is up there among the very finest old-time fiddles.

The music was made by Scott Freeman, mandolin; Steve Lewis, bluegrass banjo and guitar; Josh Scott, bass; Willard Gayheart, guitar; Dori Freeman, guitar and vocal; Edwin Lacy, clawhammer banjo. They brought up Kenny Price to pick the bluegrass banjo a couple times. Quite a picker. I felt like it was an interesting connection with Fred Price, Kenny's fiddler papa, and all the people on that album with Doc Watson and Clarence Ashley. On the way to Woodlawn, I stopped at the Subway in Independence. Inside was a man about my age with a big gray beard and a rugged face. I saw in him the people of a century ago, not even that long ago. I had a flash of what it would be like if all the men looked like him, the way they looked in the old-time ways. A very different world. Yet it's the world of the music we listen to called old-time. We tend to look at somebody from the past and pat ourselves on the back for being advanced beyond that. But after some years of living among the people that used to look like rugged farmers, I doubt we're advanced the least little bit beyond them. There is an awful lot they have on us. And it's gone to the graves with them.

We have televisions and recliners, but that doesn't make us anything that can be called better than what they had. We think what we have is better, because we don't know what they had. Every peep I've had through the keyhole of culture into those days tells me we have nothing on them. What I see them losing as they conform to the new television culture is so substantial and of such value I feel sorrow that it is gone. I attempt to keep it alive in myself, and some other people do too, but there aren't many of us. Mountain culture is gone as a culture; even though I understand the changes we're going through that take centuries are about demolishing all traditional cultures, all traditions, and starting over with a new set of values, ethics, for the next period of time with electricity > computer > a whole new world. I'd like to see the next world be more in line with democracy than it is now. I'm seeing democracy evolving toward the ideal, constantly evolving toward the ideal. Like the hokey-pokey. Two steps forward, one step back. One step forward, two steps back. The ideal being democracy. It's a big thing to undertake, considering it is happening to all the people living on the earth. It's like the next new thing.

The music tonight was all made by people with a lifetime respect from the heart for old-time mountain music. The tradition has gone away, but the music remains. The people making the music were, every one of them, people who embody the finer qualities of the old-time people. We don't gut hogs anymore and we don't carry grain in bags on our backs to the mill to be ground into flour to carry back home on our backs. From Air Bellows that's a three mile walk to the mill at Whitehead. We don't do that anymore. We have jobs and payments. We live in a world where the old-time values don't apply; yet for people who live by them they are very much alive. I know all the musicians on stage, the Steve Lewis Trio and friends. Every one of them is someone whose character I admire, people whose character I respect. That's how it is in people who know them. Down here on ground level, down from the mental sphere of television belief systems as reality, values continue to apply between individuals who don't figure because we're not rich or celebrities. We're the "ordinary" people. That's a good way to be considered. Brings to mind my friend Jr Maxwell whose daddy told him, "Stay away from important people." Let's stay among the ordinary people where we can find people of true character. The wise are among us too.

I go to Woodlawn on Friday nights to be among these people I believe to be of true character, whatever that means, people honest with themselves and others, people who are who they are without excuses or apologies. And I don't mean walk the "straight and narrow." I tend to think of them as the real people. I don't mean nobody else is real people. It's just that I see it in every one of the people making music tonight and every Friday night since first show. The twenty or so people who go almost-regularly as I've come to know them are people of character too, the kind of people I feel comfortable among. In a non-religious way it feels like a kind of "church" (fellowship) with them. Tonight there were over 60 people present. It took all the reserve chairs and half a dozen stood in the back. Minnie the white cat kept her seat throughout. I think she saw that she'd lose her pillow if she got up for a stroll among the feet of the people who take her space over on Friday nights. In the beginning she seemed to be out of sorts with the invasion of all these people in her home without being asked. By now she seems to like seeing all the people that come to her house to listen to music.

Steve and Scott knocked our sox off as usual. Josh too. The bass is as much a part of it as the banjo and mandolin. They brought different guests to the front to play a tune. Erryn Marshall from the Blue Ridge Music Center was invited to play fiddle, which she did. She is a very respectable fiddler. She is an awe-inspiring fiddler. Dori Freeman sang beautifully again. A couple years ago I thought Dori had promise. By now she has fulfilled that promise and is on her way to getting better all the time, which will be her path. Carl Jones was asked to pick banjo. Good musician. I like hearing Carl Jones. Edwin Lacy was there to pick some. He picked and sang Gentle On My Mind. Edwin really likes that song and he sings it right. Toward the second half of the second set, Scott, Steve and Josh were smokin. I meant to leave off the G. They were cutting loose making music the way they like when they get together. These three guys who go by The Steve Lewis Trio can tear the roof off the place with acoustic instruments. They played Angelina Baker, or Angeline the Baker, a Stephen Foster song, that makes a great fiddle tune, great banjo tune, great guitar tune. It's a favorite at fiddlers conventions and other competitions. They took Alabama Jubilee and revealed the music in it to such a degree that if I'd known Alabama Jubilee had what they found in it from the first time I heard the song, I'd have loved it all my life instead of just the last few years of hearing Scott, Steve and Josh play it.

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

WHITE MAN'S LAST STAND: THE SEQUEL TO THE SEQUEL

          jaap mooy, 1982


Last night I listened to the Democrat convention on a Charlotte radio station, WFAE FM. I wanted to hear Elizabeth Warren and Clinton. The earlier speakers were good. It was heartening listening to Warren, an intelligent, articulate woman; alas, too intelligent to beat her teabag opponent who drives a truck. Seeing her up against ignorance in her election, I have little hope for her. Unless times are changing, which I've not seen enough sign of to be convincing, we're still in the world where idiots rule. Seems kind of odd to be saying that in relation to Obama and Clinton, but they do not rule. Both of their presidencies were rendered powerless by below-the-belt republican chicanery. Yet they are known by the people who are not cement-heads as good and able men. I admired Clinton throughout his presidency and have admired Obama. The repubs who want absolute power for themselves have taken to sedition in both cases to destroy their influence. I've watched it since the Reaganista takeover of our government that over the last 30+ years has by now made us into a Third World country. It's been distressing in my adult life to see the Reagan era as it plays out every day.

Obama is the first "hope" I've seen that the Reagan revolution is shutting down by its own stasis as it has become the Party of Hate, the Party of No, the Party of Obstruction. They offer nothing but Depression. It's all they have to offer. It's all they know how to do. I like the thought of Obama being the beginnings of breaking away from the Reagan revolution because it has finally demonstrated what was known at its beginning, their methods don't work. They are about destroying, lying, taking from the working people, giving to the rich, and killing the poor at home and abroad. It's their solution to the problem of what to do about all the poor people in the world. I have hoped the party would self-destruct under its house of cards made of lies, deception, murder and hate. Then I think of the hymn Farther Along asking why such people prosper. "We'll understand it all by and by." I'm actually somewhat ashamed because this is the behavior of the White Man Party. I'm a white man and these are the people of my race and gender. Do I ever have an identity problem.

Not all white men are cement-heads. I know a lot of white men not listening to Limbaugh, not freaked out over a black president, and not hating Hilary Clinton. I was impressed last night to hear white men talking who were rational and not intimidated by ignorance as the democrats have been ever since the Reagan Junta. I'm especially glad to see the democrats coming away from a quarter century of being intimidated by ignorance. Ignorance is rather intimidating and has been the trump card in Karl Rove's strategies that have worked very well putting W in as governor of Texas and then as president. Rove needs to be charged with sedition just for doing that to us, let alone all that followed. I forget, however, the republican party is not about being a benefit to the American people. That's never a consideration. Since Reagan, the purpose of the republican party has been to bust unions, take from the working people and give to the rich, destroy democracy and the democrat party, and, like the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, rule absolutely, meaning militarily. It's police state they're taking us to, systematically, step by step.

I catch myself getting excited hearing Clinton give a speech that is not characterized by lying, and Elizabeth Warren. Hearing intelligent people talk has always entertained me. I remember the Supremes hand-picked for allegiance determined that multi-national corporations can put unlimited money into American political campaigns. The rule of thumb is that money determines the election. The candidate spending the most money wins. It works out that way. Arab oil money and Texas oil money who want to see the American people made into one peasant class of cheap labor. The most money commands the military. They've got us. The corporate world has us. All they need is to get rid of Obama, shut down the democrats. Romney is no candidate and cannot make any better president than W. I doubt he'd be as sinister. When I think it looks like Obama has it, I remind myself that republicans do not need to win elections, and money spent is the key. If a vast amount of money is strategically injected into the White Man coffers in the next weeks, it will determine how the election goes. I don't think it has happened yet, but have an idea after the conventions the money flow will increase greatly.

Nothing is going to be done about the "unfairness" of that decision by the Supremes, because that decision sealed the tomb door shut on democracy. I don't anticipate it rising the third day. Evidently democracy was an Enlightenment ideal that is not practical, doesn't work. The Soviet attempt at communism didn't work either. The kinds of people we have tearing down what little bit of democracy we had left are of the very mind the Constitution was written to protect us from. Bypass the alarm system and walk right in. Throw a little meat to the dog. I can't help but think, however, that it is so refreshing to hear politicians, Clinton and Warren, talking so eloquently and not lying. Haven't heard that in a long time. Of course, the repubs would say they was lying. Lying is the only form of communication the republican dark cabal knows. They would naturally say everybody else is lying. I'm not going to allow pessimism take control. I'd like to think this is the end of the Reagan revolution. I used to think excess had limits, but have learned  during the Reagan era that excess has no limits.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

THE RACIST ELECTION

     no doo-doo


I'm hearing on the news that Romney is leading Obama in North Carolina. The first puzzlement comes to me is, leading? Then I remember this is a majority racist state. Anybody white could beat anybody black. Romney, then, amounts to White Man. Obama amounts to Black Man. This election, like all in America, has strong racial agendas. Race is the only dividing question in America. Limbaugh, Reagan, all the dividers use race as their underlying agenda. Republicans don't have to say they're racist. They all know it. It's the bond between them. At the convention, everyone there was there with a racial agenda. It's the same with the Democrat convention, just the other side of the racial spectrum. As my voting is only against republicans, I'm in no state to make a difference. Last election, my county went 75% repub, 25% dem. It's a republican county with a majority of "democrats" registered. Joe Lieberman democrats. Therefore, it is believed to be a democrat county. Yet it votes consistently republican. It is a republican county. Democrat racists vote republican.

It was actually a shock for me to hear the headline on NPR. First, I didn't believe it. Then I remembered this is a racist majority state. It still didn't seem right. Yet, it does seem right. Romney is running only on being a white man. His only agenda is white man. He bills himself the white man candidate. That's all he needs to do. The reason nothing he says makes any sense is that it doesn't matter what he says. He's a white man. White Man vs Nigger. It's looking from what I hear on NPR that this election is entirely about that. The half of the electorate on fire are the racists wanting to get the nigger out of the Whitehouse. It doesn't matter that he has intelligence. Intelligence has never been a factor in American elections except as a negative factor if the candidate appears to be too intelligent. Obama is too intelligent. He's also black.

It doesn't matter that the racist party has gone unto sedition to render the Nigger powerless. They don't even deny that they want to see our country's republican-made Depression economic recovery fail. They're up front. Of course, that's what they want. They've been working toward it lock-step for the last 30+ years. It is almost accomplished, only The Nigger standing in their way. The republicans are not above assassination, either. They are definitely not above it. It's one of their favorite tactics. They do very well private planes that crash with no indication in the black box of what went wrong. They know assassination works. It rendered JFK out of the picture. All through the last 30 years the republican party has been the anti-American people party. The American people know it, and the American people go on supporting republicans. That the military is a right-wing institution is nothing new. The right wing is militarism. All militaries are the right wing. The political right wing is about militarism. The republican right wing is bringing us police state, has brought us police state, and they've been legislating it over the last 30 years. The right wing has been making the legislation.

Again, today, I quoted Gore Vidal in conversation, "When Americans are unable to distinguish stupid, we're out of business." What else can I think when republicans are putting stupid out over the airwaves. I've taken to listening to BBC International News on the Charlotte FM station, 90.7 at night. After eight they switch over to BBC all night. The difference in how the news is presented tells a great deal. Remembering, GB is as right wing as the USA, if not more. And they're every bit as racist as we are collectively, possibly more so. Europe's racism hasn't been tested yet, so don't think they have the issue licked. In Moscow, it is law that anyone of dark skin will be out of the city by a certain curfew time. When I was a kid in the 1950s I saw a billboard in Oklahoma that read, Nigger Don't Let The Sun Set On Your Head in Oklahoma. That was in the time of the Dixiecrat Party, racism out in the open, no attempt to hide behind denial. We've come back to that. The Republican party now is not denying it's the white man party. It comes out and says it. Their only agenda is: get the nigger. They're up front about it. It's a new day. What happened to denial so fast? Now they don't even fool with it.

Before, when Obama was running against McCain, it was like the white male right wing majority couldn't believe a black man could win. He did. This time it's an all-out assault with money. They know rhetoric is pointless. You can't say the same thing over and over every day. They have these silly gaffs about taking away women's rights and whatever silliness comes up. They don't care. Their only agenda is Get The Nigger. They know money is the only decider of an election. Put in enough money, the nigger is out. So it doesn't matter what the candidates say or if they're up to the role. The republicans have made the presidency, from Reagan onward, something like a corporate minimum wage job at Burger King that anybody fit into easily. Both Reagan and W proved it. I've seen a lot of sorry election years, this one perhaps the sorriest of them all. It's perhaps also the most interesting of them all in that the core issue has finally come to the surface and is now the only agenda. I'm beginning to see I can characterize the historical period of my lifetime, Pearl Harbor to present, as the Decline and Fall of Democracy in America. That's the political evolution I've watched all my life. And it's all been over the nigger issue. Now I'm seeing what happens in the post-democracy world. We're at as big a loss as Russia in the post-socialism world. In this way it can be said that the institution of slavery killed Democracy. The election will come out as the right wing Supremes had intended when they made corporations into persons. I can't help but look at an election as something like a football game on tv that I like to believe is not rigged, but laugh at myself for thinking that could be possible.

*

Monday, September 3, 2012

LEGITIMATE RAPE IN AMERICAN LIFE



Labor Day Monday, wet, overcast, foggy, a good day for cat to stay indoors. Rain is not falling now, but the ground is wet and the edge of the roof dripping. I've heard the Hillsville flea market didn't do so well this weekend. I suppose it had something to do with election year and all the news about the economy that isn't news, rather misinformation for the proles. It being a big day for working people, the people who work all the time and have little to nothing to show for it, there wasn't all that much money going around among people who work for a living. The top ten percent are taking the resources from the bottom ninety percent. Working people don't have much to spend since the beginning of the Reagan Junta. It cracks me up, talk about winning elections. Reagan bargained with Ayatollah to keep the hostages until Reagan was elected, bought with money from Central American drug trafficking, via CIA, illegal as illegal gets. The Bush-Cheney-Rummy-Rice Junta stole the election both times. Since Nixon, Bush One is the only elected republican president we've had, and that's probably needs investigating.

Labor Day. Big deal. Workers' day off. A chance to drive to the lake and put the boat in the water. Spend some money. Good for the economy. Since the Reagan Junta the workers have been regarded by government as the enemy, in the same way the teachers and administrations in schools regard the kids the enemy. They're to be kept under control or they'll break loose and run wild in all directions at once. I've watched fascism being brought in to push out democracy, job completed by now, thanks to the willful indolence of the American people who would rather watch tv than go fishing. the people who have dumbed down really fast since the Reagan Junta, willfully, the way the people of Hong Kong gave over to militarist China in one day, no problems. From one day to the next they went submissive. They knew the consequences. Surveillance is so pervasive in America now we're like herds of sheep rounded up by sheep dogs following orders. Rush Limbaugh is one of the sheep dogs, Rupert Murdoch another. Keep the workers divided, at odds with each other and they don't need control. They control themselves. They never catch on what they're doing. Like Jesus said, "They know not what they do."


This election year it's looking like the republicans have backed themselves into a corner, focusing on female sex organs and talking straight out about funneling the money of the workers to the rich. And, of course, the only thing they're really talking about that they can't say is the Nigger in the Whitehouse. Now that the republican party is openly the white racist party, after years of being the racist party and denying it, it's all out in the open and hilarious. They're talking about legitimate rape. Romney, whose personality is an anti-personality, doesn't want to be caught showing human character any more than the monkey that teamed up with him. They're the kind of people I don't like to be around. Plenty of them out and about. I have managed all my life to live among people of right-wing mind. They're just like anybody else to live among. Republicans have the arrogance of whiteness with them. It's come to the place for them, since what they do is behind the scenes to be lied about publicly. The smokescreens that once were about thinning out the population of color are now about grading rape.


A legitimate rape is ok. Like when the bitch doesn't submit, beat the shit out of her and show her what a man's about. Is that legitimate rape? Like in the Japanese occupation of Nanking, turning school girls over to the soldiers to be fucked to death. Is that legitimate rape? Didn't rape laws initially concern black man on white woman? Same-race rape has always been ok. She seduced him and changed her mind. Just like a woman. That may have something to do with what they mean by legitimate rape. Same race. White man rapes white woman, legitimate. Black man rapes black woman, legitimate. Who gives a shit? When it's a who-gives-a-shit?, it's legitimate. No problem either if a white man crosses racial lines and rapes a black woman. That's white man privilege, legitimate. A white man can't rape a black woman, anyway, cause they're all nymphomaniacs. That's why we have so many of em. These are the people that reject the scientific method with the same zeal they reject the teachings of Jesus, denial, and are lock-step walking us into theocratic fascism. It will be easy. Americans are as docile to manipulation as the Chinese. Do what you're told is so much easier than paying attention and making decisions.


This Labor Day, 2012, we have the most ridiculous spectacle of electioneering that's ever been: the republican convention. They don't know what to say, so they make thoughtless gaffs, then hang onto them to justify them and expand them. The only thing they're saying is between the lines and everybody understands: get the nigger. It doesn't matter what they say up front. Everybody gets the underlying meaning and already agrees with it or they wouldn't be there. It goes beyond surrealism into the absurd. Listening to these monkeys in yahoo news clips is pure theater of the absurd. Then there is the justification of the absurd, making it into something so silly nobody can follow it; thus giving it the mystique of Truth. Nobody gets it, so it must be Truth. Repetition adds credibility too, so they keep on talking about it, policy being to repeat it until everybody believes it. I'm reminded again of the words of William Casey, Reagan's CIA director, 1981, "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American people believe is false." Are we there yet? We know the republican half of the population is. They've shown us repeatedly they don't need to be elected.