Just in case the daily headlines are getting you down, especially you younger readers, I have a modest history lesson for you. Not to try to convince you that your assessment of the wretched state of world affairs isn’t accurate, but only to point out that the worst case scenarios you might be imagining do not necessarily have to come true. There have actually been moments when we, the citizenry, the unwashed, have stood up and said in a ringing and clear voice – NO MAS!
There was a time … yesterday, I think … when a 19 year old youth had a very good chance of getting offered an all-expense paid vacation in sunny Viet Nam. Some of those 19 year-olds were reluctant to accept that Asian trip, however, and they joined up with a large group of colorfully dressed VW microbus drivers who were touring the country looking for, I don’t know, whatever could be found in the bowl of a hash pipe.
Around that time we had a government consisting basically of a bunch of crooks named Nixon, Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Mitchell. These men happened to be all from the Elephant Party, which the sharper among you will recognize is still largely up to no good. They were very adept at telling scary stories to our citizenry about hippies, commies, socialisties, and any drug that they themselves were not using at the time. As a matter of fact, they were so mad at drugs that they started a War on them which was very successful in putting tens of thousands of Americans in jail, but not very good at getting us to Just Say No.
After years and years of peace marches and demonstrations by patriots, democrats, socialists, college students, Army veterans, political parties, Martin Luther King, celebrities of all sorts, and about a bazillion people from the back of nowhere … our leaders simply continued to do their nails and hair and wonder if their suits were all pressed, and to ship out more draftees. But suddenly there appeared a new group of folks out there in the streets, and this time the government ran for cover, hiding in outhouses and corncribs all over Maryland and Virginia. That new element which finally brought everything to a halt was moms.
Moms from New York, Nebraska, Ohio, Minnesota, even Kansas, for God’s sake. Middle aged women, some of them parents of dead soldiers, some with draft-aged sons, some who were just plain fed up with the diet of lies we had been given to chew on for years. They took to the streets and Washington surrendered. The war was over.
What’s my point? That the world has rarely been a settled and peaceful place to live in, that disaster has often been just a button’s press away, and that it is possible that we will muddle through our latest challenges. As a species we’ve been shooting ourselves in the foot over and over again through one era after another. So much so that it’s a wonder we can walk at all.
Maybe in the future what we should be doing instead is holding street dances for a little R & R after a long day’s marching to visit politician’s homes. There’s a new crop of moms out there, and they’re rolling up their sleeves.
From The New Yorker
I don’t know if a man as white as I am is allowed to have a homeboy, but if I did it might be the guy who wrote Ecclesiastes. Gotta love the guy! He put this book together that has endured for millennia, and yet we still haven’t figured out who he was or when he wrote it. And he is one of the most quotable of men, that is for certain. Here are a handful of his happy thoughts.
- For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.
- I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
- However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all. But let them remember the days of darkness, for there will be many.
- Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
In another part of the book he describes how he tried a bit of everything along his way. Wine, women, palaces, wealth, the acquisition of knowledge … but none of it lasted or was worth a Hebrew hoot. Thus thought my man Ecclesiastes.
At first glance he seems a bit of a downer, I admit, but I’ll bet that if we knew the man he probably was a prince of a guy.
But he could write a lyric. Oh, yes he could. He put down the words (in whatever century he lived in) and they lay there on the desk until Pete Seeger noticed them and came up with a melody to show them off. But Pete’s version still didn’t grab the public by the ear in large numbers, and the song never made the charts until The Byrds got hold of it and the rest is history.
Ecclesiastes 3 (excerpt)
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time for war, and a time for peace.
When I entered military service as a medical officer, I first had to spend several weeks being oriented to military life at Sheppard Air Force Base near Wichita Falls TX. It was late July and the temperatures were over 100 every day and the humidity was so high that paint would not dry. I have never yearned to go back to Wichita Falls to relive old memories. Not once.
Our large class of several hundred inductees were all professionals of one sort or another: physicians, nurses, dentists, lab and surgery techs, etc. The Air Force had wisely decided that we were incapable of close order drill and that giving us rifles to practice with was a dangerous thing to do. However, the USAF did insist that we all go camping together. So we got into our fatigues which were heavy cotton canvas of a dark green color which guaranteed that no heat energy that came our way would escape. Long pants and long sleeved shirts made our misery complete. Oh, and pith helmets … don’t forget the pith helmets.
There we were, out there in the boonies for three hot and sultry days and nights. The training sessions were boring, at least partly because we couldn’t see the demonstrations due to the sweat running into our eyes. On the last night a group of the male campers decided to relieve their boredom and reveal their mental ages to anyone who cared to look by carrying out a panty raid at the women’s tent. Yes, dear hearts, your country was being defended at least partially by a bunch of frat boys who were masquerading as adults. If the #MeToo movement had been around I would have written those jackasses up without blinking an eye. The rest of the country had been done with the juvenile fad that these raids represented by 1961, but in 1969 A.D. our heroes still had their heads stuck up somewhere where they hadn’t heard the news.
Thinking back, it was just such a strange fad. Sort of like a series of sorties by the forces of Attila the Tepid. Instead of carrying the women off into captivity, these modern marauders were content with stealing their underwear.
But it was still an act rooted in hostility. Very much loaded with sexual symbolism, and never the harmless activity that it was painted back then – “Oh them college boys … ain’t they a caution?” Gaaack, I say, gaaack.
From The New Yorker
A couple of days ago I was tipped back in a chair out in the summer sun, listening to music streaming magically from the heavens. At some point in my life I decided that there were certain things I preferred remain a mystery to me, and I refused to learn more about them. Radio was one of these and so it is still a miracle, pure and simple.
A beautiful love song by Emmylou Harris was playing, one I had heard many times before, but this time I began thinking about it and was curious as to where those cryptic words had come from. So I looked them up and found this story.
The title of the song is May This Be Love, and it was originally written and performed by none other than Jimi Hendrix in 1967, on the album Are You Experienced?
Emmylou included her version of the song on a 1995 album, Wrecking Ball, which was produced by Daniel Lanois and which is an excellent example of his trademark soundscape. The lyrics this time were quite different from the original, although the feeling behind them remained the same.
In 2014 Harris released an acoustic version of the song, and included it on the deluxe version of “Wrecking Ball.”
All of this might be more than you wanted to know about a single tune. But come on … tracking it from Jimi Hendrix to Emmylou Harris … that’s a musical trip with way cool on both ends.