Saturday, April 24, 2010

Music that Gets Us Through: All I Need to Alone

All I Need - Al Green (is there live footage out there somewhere? And if not, WHY THE HECK NOT?)
All I Need - Radiohead (oddly enough, the Radiohead song was released first. but this is a phenomenal video, imo.)

All In - The Grouch & Eligh (with Pigeon John)

All My Friends - LCD Soundsystem
All My Love - Led Zeppelin
All of Me - Billie Holiday
All Right - Adam Again
All She Ever Wanted Was Love - Big Faith (Mark Heard tribute)
All that I Am - Undercover
All the Hype - Five Iron Frenzy
All the Mercy We Have Found - Vigilantes of Love
All the Time - StarFlyer 59
All the Way - Frank Sinatra
All the Way to Heaven - Swirling Eddies
All Those Expectations - Peter Bjorn and John
All Too Soon - Mark Heard

All You Need Is Love - Beatles

Almost Threw It All Away - Charlie Peacock
Alone, Together - Strokes
Alone... - Pigeon John

I'm a bit taken aback by how many largely OOP songs aren't available for mass consumption via youtube now (which is weird and is the opposite effect of just a couple years ago, let alone five years ago when Youtube was birthed. Big ups to the site and to those who find and post the hard-to-finds, especially the concerts).

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dedicated to the legislators in Arizona

Albi was a racist dragon. But Albi learned not to be racist anymore by befriending a little boy (that he had burnt the day before because, after all, Albi was racist) after they were both chased out of their town for being different.

Maybe that's what Arizona needs - to be thrown out of the US.

In the eighties through the early nineties they made a ruckus for being holdouts on celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Public Enemy notably produced a gubercidal fantasy song and the NFL (about as conservative a major business as it gets) moved its 27th Super Bowl from Tempe to the Rose Bowl in response to the state's opposition to the Civil Right icon's memory.

And now the state's legislators have brought up another couple of dark kettles. First is this state bill to effectively criminalize being brown without carrying proper ID (whatever the heck that may mean. Is a driver's license good enough?) and authorize unwarranted searches. Stephen Colbert - bless his heart - had an excellent word about that the other day and it is worth a view (or a few).

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - No Problemo
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

And then Senator John McCain (partially known for his flip-flop on MLK day. That is, after he vigorously opposed it throughout the eighties and then found that position to be political suicide) appears on the "O'Reilly Factor" last week to make Bill O seem reasonable and rational. That's some work for a previously respected senator/presidential front-runner. He not only sided with Arizona's state's rights (which, for better or worse, I tend to associate with the Civil Rights backlash and the Southern Strategy) over ineffective immigration laws (which need comprehensive reform, sure enough. The current policies are damaging to immigrants, their families, our economy and all involved) but then added this bizarre but telling comment that immigrants are blatantly responsible for causing crashes on the highways.

McCain, however, is trying to out-Maverick his Tea Party rival. Tells you how crazy the state's politics is getting in that they're basically tied at the moment. But even more crazy is the fact that the Birthers are taking over. The racist movement that questions the birth place and citizenship of a dark-skinned president (despite all the evidence to the contrary) is now asking Arizona (as it tried to gain momentum in frighteningly xenophobic states like Florida and Oklahoma) to require a birth certificate from all presidential runners in order to be on a ballot within the state. And this bill has passed the state House already. (Again, who defines whether or not a form fills the requirement of a birth certificate? Birthers constantly vex the state of Hawaii with requests to see Obama's REAL bc, besides the fact that it's ALL OVER THE INTERNET.)

The ironic thing, of course, is that Arizona's favorite son McCain won't even be able to run for president again. Cuz, you know, he was born in Panama.

I wish the great state of Arizona's legislators (and the nutjobs who keep voting these racist a$hats in) would learn a lesson from Albi, and just stop being so racist.*

Of course the video and the song - unlike the legislation proposed - are a joke. Racism in this country, much like sexism the world-over, is an inherent trait of our legacy in the US, and we are all slaves to the system. Nobody wants the slightest association with the word 'racism' because they feel it only and solely means that a person is going out and threatening and killing people based on their skin color. They don't realize that racism is truly a system that is so ingrained within us that a member of the powerful majority cannot just turn it on or off - not without severe work, listening and understanding. Therefore, those who do support the racist system (say, birthers and those who argue against the rights of so-called 'illegals') are offended by the slightest suggestion that they support a racist system. They may not personally be bad people, but they play a part in propagating a - literally - deadly way of life.

However, there is much to be clarified on this issue and I would like to start a series on it soon

Monday, April 19, 2010

There are two things a racist hates:

1) Being called a racist just because he insists that his hard-earned money shouldn't go towards THOSE lazy people - and besides, we all know who the real racists are: people who keep talking about racism.

2) THOSE people.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Some trust in chariots, some worship power...

From the first chapter of Abraham Joshua Heschel's phenomenal book, The Prophets:

Those who have a sense of beauty know that a stone sculpted by an artist's poetic hands has an air of loveliness; that a beam charmingly placed utters a song. The prophet's ear, however, is attuned to a cry imperceptible to others. A clean house or a city architecturally distinguished may yet fill the prophet with distress.
‘What sorrow awaits you thieves!...
What sorrow awaits you who build big houses
with money gained dishonestly!...
The very stones in the walls cry out against you,
and the beams in the ceilings echo the complaint.
What sorrow awaits you who build cities
with money gained through murder and corruption!'
Habakkuk 2:6,9, 11-12 (nlt)

These words contradict most men's conceptions: the builders of the great cities have always been envied and acclaimed; neither violence nor exploitation could ever dim the sound of their praise. "Woe to him..."? Human justice will not exact its due, nor will the pangs of conscience disturb intoxication with success, for deep in our hearts is the temptation to worship the imposing, the illustrious, the ostentatious. Had a poet come to Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom, he would have written songs exalting its magnificent edifices, its beautiful temples and worldly monuments. But when Amos of Tamera came to Samaria, he spoke not of the magnificence of palaces, but of moral confusion and oppression. Dismay filled the prophet:
I abhor the pride of Jacob,
And hate his palaces,
he cried out in the name of the Lord (Amos 6:8). Was Amos then, not sensitive to beauty?

What, then, is the highest good? Three things ancient society cherished above all else: wisdom, wealth, and might. To the prophets, such infatuation was ludicrous and idolatrous. Assyria would be punished for her arrogant boasting... [Isaiah 10:13; Isaiah 29:13, 14; Jeremiah 8:9]

Ephraim has said,
Ah, but I am rich,
I have gained wealth for myself;
But all his riches can never offset
the guilt he has incurred...
Because you have trusted in your chariots
and the multitude of your warriors,
Therefore the tumult of war shall arise among your people,
And all your fortresses shall be destroyed.
Hosea 12:8; 10:13,14

This is what the Lord says:
“Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom,
or the powerful boast in their power,
or the rich boast in their riches.
But those who wish to boast
should boast in this alone:
that they truly know me and understand that I am the L
who demonstrates unfailing love
and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth,
and that I delight in these things.
I, the L
ord have spoken!

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (nlt)

This message was expressed with with astounding finality by a later prophet: "This is the word of the Lord... Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit..." (Zechariah 4:6)

Make of that what you will, but I hardly think that's a ringing endorsement of the US as it stands. Less of American Exceptionalism. Idols should never take the place of worshiping God and serving our neighbors.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I'd rather be sheep

I've been trying to write this final post on Love for some time now. But then, I keep getting The Angry. My most recent The Angry is in response to the Tea Party Faithful. I'm actually trying to turn over a new leaf, to activate people who are on the fence to fight for the poor and afflicted and those in the margins of society - to fight for equality for all.

But then I see and hear people who take the name of Jesus in vain as a means of attacking those we're supposed to be protecting, welcoming, visiting, and giving good news to. And that stirs something in me. Something baaaaad. But I just want to use this as an opportunity to show my faithful readers the kind of deluded thinking* that we're up against. This is my response to one such spewer after reading this article.

My wife is switching jobs and we're losing insurance for three months. I have many friends who cannot find full-time work (myself included) and therefore go without. It's not right. But to hear fellow Christians go around saying that we don't have health insurance either b/c we're lazy or we really don't deserve it is about as infuriating a thing to ever listen to. That makes me fundamentally aware that Christians in America do not serve Christ's emerging Kingdom, nor his values, but the values of the wealthy and the rich. It's hatred, and I want nothing to do with it. If you take it personally, well, sorry. I seriously think you should reconsider your viewpoints.

"Is taxation not stealing?"

Nope. Who gave you that idea? I know it wasn't Jesus. Or anywhere in the Bible. "Render unto Caesar." And you think OUR tax laws are stifling? Seriously, these guys were under the imperial reach of Rome. They were taxed from Jerusalem to Rome with hands reaching in at every point along the way...

"Did the government earn that money, or did we?"

Oh, now I see... Ok. I got a pretty little place for you called Somalia.

See, government protects our ways of life. That's what it does. It makes it possible for us to go to work, to have jobs, to eat, move around. Literally. Without it, the only way for you to survive, to have a decent life where you can sit down on your computer and spew your utter nonsense

"Should the taxpayers provide all families with a car, home, a 1/4 acre, a full pantry, health care, college for their kids, a livable retirement account, a cruise in the Caribbean, sports for their kids, new clothes every school year, a flat screen TV, a PS3, a laz-e-boy, two cats and a dog?"

See, that's the point, isn't it? I'm talking about basic life rights. You're concerned about overriding consumeristic materialism, the god of America. It's not a sliding scale. You can keep your pretty little teevee, Jake. I would just like to prevent deaths and work drop-offs.

"Ben Franklin said it best..."

I don't care what our Founding Fathers said. I don't worship them. I don't follow them. You can quote, misquote, rip them out of context, falsely attribute all you want to. But I follow Jesus. And Jesus said give to all who have need.

"Jesus has given us every opportunity to accept salvation and more forward in our faith. We must show that we have faith through the fruit of our deeds. Our deeds do not save us, but they do show the world who it is we follow."
Let your light so shine before all men. Yes, Jake, I know. I know the Bible pretty darn well. What I alluded to earlier about the goats, that's Jesus' litmus test, you may say. The life of following Jesus is the life of looking out for the least of these. If we do not do that, if we do not guard, protect, share, visit, aid, then Jesus says that we are no good. Trash-eaters.

I'd rather be sheep.

"It is not the responsibility of the government to meet your needs, it is the Lord's"

I don't think that you're suggesting that I sit at home and pray and then Jesus will appear with several loaves of bread and fish as well as my rent check, Jake? The Lord works through his body, and through various means. You allude to this, but seriously, what? Are you kidding me? That's your whole plan? 30 million uninsured Americans and this is your plan? Will you chip in towards this need? Will you and your church come down to inner city Chicago and make sure that we're all taken care of in all of our needs? Because we're pretty much all in the same boat here. My church is very generous, but we don't have the means for this.

No, don't worry about me, though. I'd spend more time checking your own heart. Because unless you're actually fighting the good fight amongst the least of these, your words are hollow and weak and meaningless. Again, you don't know me.

and finally,
"your feeble attempts to explain why government is the solution to all of societies problems."

The reason you may see them as feeble is b/c I'm not arguing what you think I'm arguing. I'm saying one thing, while you're sure that I'm saying another because you BELIEVE that's what everybody who disagrees with you is saying.
Government is not the solution, Jake. I never said that. I don't know anybody who ever said that. But government is not the problem either. Government secures our rights. And chief among them is the right to life.

What we tend to believe, though, Jake, is that we need to fight for our neighbor's survival in every arena. That includes personal, family, social, community, church (local and universal), business, and governmental. They're all walls of protection and all of them need to be supportive.

*I have to make this clear: I don't hate those who spout these views. I do feel attacked and hurt, though. And I do tend to call them out on their views as those views are dangerous, demeaning and hurtful. But I believe that they are slaves to a system that seeks to enslave us all. Much as poor whites in the Antebellum South were turned against blacks, there are other forces at work. Oddly enough, many of those enslaving forces work under titles like "Freedom" and "Liberty."

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Music that Gets Us Through: Air to All I Ever

Air - Adam Again (OOP, of course)
Air near my fingers - White Stripes
Airbag - Radiohead (live version from one of my favoritey albums of the 90's)
Airport Surroundings - Loney, Dear (could've been a soundtrack for any manner of teen rom-coms in the 80's. One of those rare discoveries you find while forcing yourself to listen to the music in your computer. Thanks, Paste Mag!)
Alanson, Crooked River - Sufjan Stevens (actually makes handbell choirs sound interesting and pastoral)
Alarma! - Daniel Amos (the audio in this video - which is from the same show I have this song from - sounds pretty darned good. I don't know who was playing in this incarnation of DA, but apparently Jennwith2ns's uncle Phil Madeira was swirling the keys. Nice.)
Alfie - Lily Allen (Such a romp!)
Alive - Beastie Boys
All Along the Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix (of course!)

All Because of You - U2
All Blues Hail Mary - Joe Henry (I can't find a copy of this on youtube. But this is a wonderful Holy Week song, a lamentation on love and death.)
All Day and Night - Kinks (The Ramones owe their existence as much to this song as to 60s girl pop groups. Rock n Roll is forever indebted.)
All Day Sucker - Stevie Wonder (as sweet as it sounds)
All Down the Line - Rolling Stones (makes me wanna hike up my pants leg and do the Jagger. Every. Freakin'. Time.)
All Good Naysayers Speak Up! Or Forever Hold Your Peace! - Sufjan Stevens (Hmm... Two songs from Michigan already...)
All I Ever Get for Christmas Is Blue - Over the Rhine (OtR came out with an album chockful of sexy and/or fun Christmas songs a couple years ago. Life just hasn't been the same since.)

Ok, so sharing time: What you got?