(The subtitle for this blogpost is: Sometimes I swear … what kind of basket do I have over my head that I can miss so many things as time goes by?)
It’s undoubtedly not kosher to start out with a big fat quote from what so many thoughtful and erudite people regard as such a trash source that you can’t even cite it as a reference in your college essay. But that’s me all over, ain’t it? I am indebted to Wikipedia enough that every time they ask me for a dollar I send one along to them. It’s doubtful that without this irregular resource to lean on that this blog could have survived. (Is that hand clapping and cheering that I hear in the background? Now that, my friends, is unseemly).
Americana (also known as American roots music)is an amalgam of American music formed by the confluence of the shared and varied traditions that make up the musical ethos of the United States, specifically those sounds that are emerged from the Southern United States such as folk, gospel, blues, country, jazz, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, bluegrass, and other external influences.[ Americana, as defined by the Americana Music Association (AMA), is “contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues, resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it may draw. While acoustic instruments are often present and vital, Americana also often uses a full electric band.”
Americana as a radio format had its origins in 1984 on KCSN in Northridge, California. Mark Humphrey, a contributor to country/folk Frets magazine, hosted a weekly radio show called “Honky Tonk Amnesia” which played “country, folk, honky tonk, cajun, dawg, blues, and old-time music”, a combination that the country music station KCSN advertised as “Americana”. The format came into its own in the mid-1990s as a descriptive phrase used by radio promoters and music industry figures for traditionally-oriented songwriters and performers.Wikipedia: Americana
There is a purpose in my using this quote in that even before I knew that there was such a genre or had heard its name spoken, it was the kind of music that I had joyfully been listening to forever. It was country music without the tedious references to pickup trucks, gettin’ blitzed, and don’t my girl look great in those cut-off jeans. It was a folk music playlist that included artists like Bob Dylan and Warren Zevon and Emmylou Harris and Pete Seeger and Mary Chapin Carpenter and Leonard Cohen. What they had in common was intelligence, respect for themselves and their material, humor, and sympathy for just how difficult being a relatively sane human being on the planet could be. And they were great storytellers.
A couple of days ago I put up a YouTube video here starring Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires, who operate in that seemingly boundary-less area called Americana. They show pretty clearly how really fine artists will often outgrow their initial narrow classification (country) and what they do becomes something bigger than that.
Here’s one more video by Isbell and Shires. Is it country, rock and roll, or a psychedelic folk song? Or is it simply a story that might have been about you or I, one being told in an interesting manner and that has no need of such pigeonholing at all.
I realized something about myself this past week. In the matter of feeding our two pets, I have become the caricature of a Jewish mother. I insist that they eat everything that I put out for them to show me that they are not dying of some as yet invisible malady.
Eat, eat, you’re nothing but skin and bones
There that’s the boy, one more bite of the salmon/tuna paté and we’re there.
No, we’re not going outside until we finish what’s in our bowl, are we?
Omigod, look at how much is left in that dish. Two more pawfuls and you can go out and play
It’s bad enough that over time I have become my own mother and father, now I am also taking on characteristics of someone else’s parent as well. There came a time along the course of my own development when I realized that I was not always going to be twelve years old and I might possibly turn into one of those decrepit and uninteresting creatures in front of me – an adult. From that point onward I tried to escape my destiny by doing the opposite of what I thought adults might do whenever possible.
It didn’t work. I have become my mother, my father, and a yenta that I never met.
From The New Yorker
I do not know if I want to live in a universe that contains myself and a Ken and Barbie movie, which I learned only this morning is coming our way. What must the aliens who visit us from time to time think about all this? Why would they bother to send observers to a planet filled with creatures who are capable of this sort of dreck? Wouldn’t they rather study one that featured intelligent life?
From The New Yorker
Jamelle Bouie wrote in the Times of New York on Friday about a group that was new to me. The gerontocracy. Of the Democratic Party. That they were seriously out of touch. I think that he’s on the right track here, it’s just that I hadn’t heard the term “gerontocracy” before. I sorta like the word. It’s much better than old fart for instance, the term that it replaces.
What’s missing from party leaders, an absence that is endlessly frustrating to younger liberals, is any sense of urgency and crisis — any sense that our system is on the brink. Despite mounting threats to the right to vote, the right to an abortion and the ability of the federal government to act proactively in the public interest, senior Democrats continue to act as if American politics is back to business as usual.The Gerontocracy of the Democratic Party Doesn’t Understand That We’re at the Brink: New York Times, June 17, 2o22
Some older citizens get dotty. Some forget their way home. Some shouldn’t be carrying the water any longer. It has been the arrangement in wiser societies around the globe that senior citizens were prized for the long view of life that they had, and were turned to for counsel. Many of these older people had indeed become seasoned and wise, and sometimes this is exactly what is needed. But not all the time … not at all. Sometimes a bit of rashness is the appropriate remedy for an ill.
One of the quotes that Bouie includes in the piece is from Dianne Feinstein, a worthy lady who might better have quit the Senate a long time ago.
“Some things take longer than others, and you can only do what you can do at a given time,” she said in an interview with Rebecca Traister of New York magazine. “That does not mean you can’t do it at another time,” she continued, “and so one of the things you develop is a certain kind of memory for progress: when you can do something in terms of legislation and have a chance of getting it through, and when the odds are against it, meaning the votes and that kind of thing.”The Institutionalist: New York Magazine, June 6, 2022
Feinstein’s words in the above quote would have been perfectly in sync with much that was written in the 1960s when black citizens in America were advised to take it slowly, not rush things, everything would be fine if we didn’t move too fast. This advice ignores the fact that for the person being mistreated the only proper time to eliminate injustice is now.
Here’s another quote (almost unbelievable), this time from President Biden.
Earlier this year at the National Prayer Breakfast, to give another example, President Biden praised Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, as a “man of your word” and a “man of honor.”
“Thank you for being my friend,” Biden said to a man who is almost singularly responsible for the destruction of the Senate as a functional lawmaking body and whose chief accomplishment in public life is the creation of a far-right Supreme Court majority that is now poised to roll American jurisprudence back to the 19th century.The Gerontocracy of the Democratic Party Doesn’t Understand That We’re at the Brink: New York Times, June 17, 2o22
How in the world … ? Come ON, Joe.
Anyway, as a card-carrying gerontocrat, I am not advocating shoving everybody on the AARP mailing list over a cliff, and I certainly don’t want to be like the old Eskimo dude who is given a couple of dried fish and a cupful of blubber and waved goodbye as the village moves on without him. But having a governing body so age-skewed may not be healthy for our fine republic. My generation could serve more usefully as advisors, and less as warriors.
Finishing up, today is Father’s Day, one of those Hallmark “holidays” that are exuberantly oversentimentalized but despite all my efforts are still being celebrated. However, I am a father, and I became one way before I realized what a responsibility it really was, or had the maturity to do a decent job of it. For my many failures I apologize to my children. For any successes … well … what can I say? I’m a hell of a guy.
Here are my submissions for Father’s Day songs this year.