I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
February 07, 2017 - 3:30 p.m.
This is a very rare, forgot to write earlier, edition of Wise Madness. Since the inauguration, Facebook has been sucking me in. Everyone has so much to say. The thing is I should say most of it here.
Yesterday was Monday, I got bagels went to Trader Joe's, yada, yada, yada. That's a lot less detail than I usually give. You're welcome. OK one detail. I get bagels because Bagel Bob's bagels are only 45¢ on Mondays after 4:30. Or they were; they've gone up. Not to just 50¢ like you'd expect but all the way to 55¢; that's a 22% rise. Inflation is less than 2%. Nothing has gone right since the Cubs won the World Series.
I did something yesterday that was far from my norm, I watched Lady Gaga's Half-Time Show on YouTube. There was just so much talk about it and Lady Gaga has talent. Hey she played Rockwood Music Hall back in the day. She's my people.
Many people are upset, even furious at her for not being overtly political. First off that's ridiculous. Everything does not have to be political and you shouldn't judge the choices of artists. Secondly, she was political. She did what conservatives have done for years, she gave dog whistles to those in the resistance. People are acknowledging playing This Land but it seems that many missed the deeper subtext of its placement following God Bless America. What's the matter people, didn't you listen to the Bruce Springsteen Live Box Set? If you did you'd know that This Land was written as leftist response to God Bless America. The song is a rebuke to Trump's xenophobia. She did not have to sing the entire thing to make it so. And how oblivious do you have to be to not see that the gay anthem, Born this Way is a political statement against Trump and Pence's homophobic agenda. If she did something outrageous the people that agree would cheer and those who disagree would be furious and double down on their positions. People need to understand that it's not about being outraged so that you feel better. It's about changing the way people think.
But that's not what I even wanted to write about. I've read other people talking about that. Hell, to be honest it's me feeling better by voicing my outrage. I'll leave it in here as an object lesson. But no, what do I write about even more than politics? Music, and you know what? Lady Gaga gave a musical performance. Writing about musical performances is what I do.
Lady Gaga is not part of my usual listening universe. She did one song I hate, no I don't know the name, I could listen again to find it but why? It might be her biggest hit or it might be that I always notice it when it's played because it annoys me. I did like many of the others songs. But even if I hadn't it wouldn't change something important. What she was making was music, not processed music product. How many of you get what I'm referring to? There are many "foods" which aren't what they sound like. The FDA or is it the USDA makes them label American Cheese, "processed cheese product." A common prescription of nutritionists is to eat food, not processed food products. I know that might seem strange coming from me who sings the praises of Cheez-Whiz, but at least I know it's something to be embarrassed about. I did take the advice to heart when I went to Trader Joe's. I put down the corn chips I had in my hand and bought sunflower seeds instead.
The advice of musicologists should be listen to music not processed music product. Lady Gaga was not auto-tuned. Despite all the pyrotechnics and gymnastics, she didn't lip synch, she sang. She sang very well. She didn't get her songs off the hits assembly line, she wrote them herself. She makes music. You might not like her just as I don't like kale. That is not a criticism of her or kale. That's a statement about you or me. Some people miss that she the music equivalent of food because she comes in elaborate glitzy packaging. There's a lot going on that isn't music. But she's someone that started at Rockwood, a chick with a guitar. There is music at the core of the performance.
Oh, and I still don't love Lady Gaga and won't start listening, but I respect her.
OK do I write about education and school choice now. It's been on my ideas list for quite some time. Betsy DeVos was confirmed today so it would be timely. It will still be timely tomorrow.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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