Saturday, December 28, 2013

we should boycott Starbucks and drink a coffee at Toby Keith's new restaurant chain

So the CEO of Starbucks "asks" patrons to leave their guns at home and gets pandering-pundit-patter about what a brave man he is. His workers are directed by company policy to serve the gun crowd politely. Screw him. Toby Keith, the United States Uber Alles Nashville-type country star bans guns in his restaurants, totally playing against type. God Bless him. Here's a link to the story.
My parents, conservative Reagan-loving Southern Baptists, would have called Starbucks "a rough place" and warned against going there because, in their world, decent eating and drinking establishments don't have guns or threatening feelings in the air.
This, to me, provides a parable, but parables must have endings that teach a lesson. And must not this parable end with the "good son" (prissy Starbucks) getting the short end of the stick while the "prodigal son" (Toby Keith) wins all the kudos?
Really, people. In every city I see a Starbucks I also see local coffee bars. You don't have to give up your lattes to take a stand! BOYCOTT STARBUCKS, specifically over the issue of guns. Send the message. Let Starbucks become havens for the type of person who wants more guns in our society, people who will sacrifice children for a poorly-conceived conception of the 1st Amendment's place in our Constitution.
Pass it on.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

about Social Security Lies and the Lying Liars who rob us.

Go Elizabeth Warren! This article in Salon documents how just one powerful voice can change an argument into a debate.
I am one of those who believe that the lack of a "locked box" to hold our Social Security monies is the cause of all our Social Security financing problems. Remember how Al Gore was ridiculed for his "locked box" statement in his Presidential campaign? It wasn't just the simplistic term that was ridiculed;  it was the entire idea that Social Security was being robbed. After all, went the argument, all the money taken from the Social Security Trust Fund was guaranteed by "IOUs" (bonds) and those bonds are backed by "the full faith and credit of the United States government." (We've seen how little that can be trusted). And the pundits declared that - Even if all the money were repaid today there is still not enough to meet the demand of the Baby Boom generation.
That money was borrowed at the worth of a dollar at the time. Years and years later when some money is printed to pay it back, it's highly inflated money and the interest earned has only been around 1%. So the Federal government gets far more value for the money borrowed than the taxpayer will ever see. And the money borrowed is not being used to stimulate the economy at any level that is likely to benefit the common taxpayer.
This link to a Wall Street Journal blog spells out the sophistry pretty well. You should read it. It's from the Wall Street Journal so you can be sure it's not tailored to my Socialist mindset. To my mind, the argument boils down to this:  as long as the U.S. economy keeps expanding at a rapid rate Social Security will be fine. But the economy is not and has not expanded enough to relieve the pressure on Social Security. So either it's a false argument or else we are being robbed. Are you happy with either?
Isn't this the ultimate lie that we see playing out before us? The Earth's environment is telling us quite clearly that there are limits; there is a price to pay for pushing those limits. The world's economy continually moves away from dependence upon the United States.  Rather than a "rising tide which lifts all boats" (no global warming pun intended), the world is really more like a pie - there is only so much to go around. There are those who argue that pie is bad for you so we will take it away. There are those who whine that the 99% don't really use pie correctly. We need politicians with the guts to say - Whoa! You 1% can not longer have most of the pie. You stole it anyway. Now, more taxes for you!
Republicans and way too many Democrats want to destroy Social Security as we know it. No pie for you! But don't worry. As the right-wing Christians tell you, your reward is in heaven. And thank God, the end is near. Heaven help you if it's not, because your Social Security was robbed.
"There will be pie in the sky by and by. That's a lie." Joe Hill

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

the ruling in the Colorado anti-gay baker ruling ain't a piece of cake - it's a red herring

The much-publicized story of the Denver baker ordered to serve same-sex couples by Administrative Law Judge Robert Spencer is the kind of news story that has "legs" - spider legs. At first blush to some it is a tale of a changing, more inclusive America embracing change. To others it is a perfect example of the moral decay of America.
I think it's a pile of - you know what. Hear me out now. I grew up as a hippie in Texas noticing signs that said, "No shirt, no shoes, no service," and "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone." I did not then, or now, think those signs should be illegal. If I opened a business and a bunch of gun-toting Ted Nugget - types walked in I want the right to say, "Get out of my store. I will not serve you even if you remove your guns." Why? Because it's my fuckin' store and this is America. (Starbucks - you made the the wrong economic decision, not only the wrong moral one. My parents would have been disgusted!)
Now, if the story were about a pharmacy picking and choosing which prescriptions to fill it would be a different story, but this is just a damn cake. If it were a government-subsidized bakery, it would be a different story, but it's not.
Just begin a boycott against that bakery. I'd join in. Many people gay and straight would happily boycott the Masterpiece Cakeshop. I bet other bakeries would jump up to say, We will serve your needs without judgement. We don't need laws about goddamn cakes!
This is the type of ruling that so easily plays into the hands of Fox News and Sarah Palin, et al, I truly wonder if it's not cooked up by Republicans. It will be a gift that keeps on giving. It quite likely is a ruling that follows logically from law, but it can be used by canny Republicans! I can't say whether or not this judge deliberately served up a red herring, I'm saying it's distressing that some "liberals"  are going to cheer such a petty example of gay "rights" yet which runs so much counter to the American tradition of freedom.
Meanwhile in Kiev the Ukrainian people are massed against huge and dangerous powers of state - and winning. Would that we had flooded the streets against the U.S. Supreme Court Bush v Gore decision, but no we rolled over. We want our cake and we'll eat it, too, even if we choke on it.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Here is the king of article (Huffington Post) that sours me on the Democratic Party. Bob Menendez is so anxious to continue sanctions against Iran. Sanctions partly affect the militaries of a country, but don't they mostly punish the citizens? Isn't the idea simply to make an innocent population suffer as a means toward achieving the United States' political/military ambitions? At what point does it become appropriate to make citizens suffer for the acts of their government, over which the citizens may have little control? 

Jeb Bush is running for President, appealing to the Radical Right

Here is the latest article I've seen about Jeb Bush taking a Radical Right viewpoint. And below is a short blog from July 15, 2012. I think I was just too early in my prediction.

I first thought this in late '09 when I read that Jeb Bush had attended a Rand Paul fundraiser. Everywhere I've posted it someone says,  "No way." Well, way.  This criticism of Romney from fellow Republicans is unprecedented. Republicans don't do that; they hold coronations. I still think that Romney is a dark-horse, willing or unwilling, for the next King Bush. I think he (Bush) will incorporate just enough of the Ron Paul libertarianism for Rand Paul to accept the VP slot and to gather votes that Romney just can't get. If I'm wrong, I'm only wrong, but if I'm right I claim 2 (now 4) years of braggin' rights!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

more about John Fahey

Yesterday's post told, briefly, what I know of the story of John Fahey and the Intregal Yoga Institute in Los Angeles. I did not specifically point out, as I will now, that the story begun by John is that he was trying to get close to a lady in the ashram. My close friend Tiramal was in overall charge of the ashram at that time and the lady in question was a secretary. Tiramal never said a word about this. He said that John had called the ashram with suicidal thoughts and was reaching out for help. I believe Tiramal. I'd have to hear from the lady in question before I could believe the story. This woman was a serious devotee and I can't see her joking around with John. That may be why he picked her to tell that story.
John was an exasperating person. He was contrary. Read Glenn Jones' liner notes for The Epiphany of Glen Jones here and you'll get the idea. I think it's safe to say that only his supreme artistry (when he was on) could account for his friendships over the years. Like Picasso or Dylan, he was hard to deal with, but his art saved him.
A few years after I hung out with John a bit in '72 I saw him perform at the Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin, Texas. Afterwards, I was among a few folks backstage waiting to see him. We waited and we waited. Finally, some dude, said, "This is ridiculous" and pushed open the restroom door. Instantly, we heard loud voices - "Hey, man, how you doin'?" "What the hell are you doing in here?" "Hiding out, man." They burst out together with talk of a party somewhere. John didn't talk much to the rest of us backstage. He gave me a look like "who the hell are you?" I was too embarrassed and shy to say anything.
Want a guitar lesson from John? Go here for a fascinating story and a lesson in open C tuning.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

about John Fahey

The Guardian has an article about the American guitarist John Fahey. Read it here. John's best music is so radical that I somewhat disagree with characterizing him as a blues player. He would hate the term "New Age," but he invented a New Age in steel-string guitar playing. I like the term someone came up with - "American Primitive Guitar." If one tunes to an open tuning (such as G, Keith Richard's favorite tuning - DGDGBD), and then fingerpicks Travis Style (alternating thumb on the bass and use of the first two fingers) - it's hard to go somewhere John did not go first.
I bought "Dance of Death and other Plantation Favorites" sometime around 1965 just because the cover and title were so unusual and the store clerk spoke highly of the music. I instantly fell under the spell! One of my friends who I turned onto the music was named Steve Clark.
Fast forward to 1972. My son was born in November and the three of us went to Los
Angeles to visit Steve, only his name was now Tiramal. I might be misspelling it, but that's
phonetically correct. Tiramal was the director of the LA Integral Yoga Institute, Swami Satchidananda's ashram. Tiramal invited my wife, son, and I to live there in a beautiful old mansion that was
the Institute. So we started getting up at 4 am for meditation, then Hatha Yoga. Steve, I
mean Tiramal, told me, "You'll never believe who I'm giving private yoga lessons to." He
said that one day he got a phone call from a man who told him he was at the end of his
rope. He was depressed and drinking too much. He called the Institute with the remote
hope that there was help there. The caller was John Fahey. Tiramal had been going to John's house for a few weeks. One night he told me that John  might come that night for Kirtan (sacred chanting). I had never seen a photograph of  John, but when I walked into the room and saw this man in rolled-up blue jeans I knew who he was!
I started visiting John's house. I just hung around his house a few times talking. One day I asked him how often he changed strings. He answered,
"Everytime I play" Wow, I said, can I have your old strings? "Why, they're dead." That shut
me up.  Another time he picked up a guitar, fingered an A chord in standard tuning and
stretched his little finger up to the fifth fret on the high E string. He looked at me with
rather arched eyebrows. I thought the unspoken message was- do you know this move?
I felt funny that he was showing me such a simple thing and didn't know at all how to
Well, you can see that I wasn't a close pal, but that every single moment with him was
special for me if not for him.
I'll end this post with day at the Yoga Institute John told me that his guitar was
upstairs and I could play it. I went up. It was tuned DADGAD, a tuning often used in Celtic guitar playing. I'd played in DADF#AD of  course but this DADGAD was new to me. Of course I instantly recognized the sound from some of John's pieces. I was wrapped up in this special moment when John walked in and  lay down on the floor. I kept playing not daring to look at John. When I stopped I looked over and heard the gentle sleeping snore of my hero.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

it's time for a new Populist movement and we won't get it from Democrats

A piece by Michael Lind here on Salon does an excellent job of analyzing the economic issues dividing and uniting the Republicans and Democrats. I won't paraphrase; I'll just add my two bits.
It's especially encouraging to read, near the end of his article, a rational analysis of Populism. Populism has been portrayed far too often as some kind of fascist/racist aberration of American politics. Yeah, right. Then explain to me such aspects of the Populist group the National Farmer's Alliance which gladly accepted black farmers. Of course the "moneyed interests" still have reason to paint Populism with the black brush of fascism. The Populists fought against banks and the government subsidized railroads. Sounds anti-fascist to me.
The Populists understood class warfare and were not going to lie down and take it.
In today's America, the Democrats are like the Republicans of my youth. And the Republicans are kinder and gentler fascists. The entire basis of the Democratic Party is to compromise with the fascists in order to prove to the fascist's media that they are playing ball.
Republicans have taken a shotgun approach to their agenda. They shoot; see what sticks (resonates) and, with the help of the corporate media, run with it. Yes, Michael Lind you are right -  the Democrats merely react. They have no agenda other than to cooperate. Through their fear of being proactive in continuing the progressive Roosevelt Democratic agenda, they have turned into a party that merely compromises, and compromises our prosperity away. The Democrats enable the Republicans.
I would like to add this to Mr. Lind's thinking: By aligning themselves so successfully with the Religious Right, Republicans have picked up the tone of a Baptist preacher in a high emotional state of righteous wrath. If a Democrat uses that tone they are shot down as crazy and hateful people. Remember Howard Dean and his yell/scream of euphoria while he was running for president? He was painted as a crazy man and all he did was shout out a most excellent Rebel Yell!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

one must use one's gut feelings when lies prevail - JFK was killed by the US government

This link to an excellent article says more than I can about the assassination of JFK. I've read the author's book "Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years." The author, David Talbot, is the founder of Salon.
In times and on matters wherein we the people have no access to facts, when government actions become secret, we must turn to our gut feelings. This is dangerous if one has no "feelings" based upon thought and research, if one, in other words is a mere tool of America's media. It also is a difficult thing if one has no guts.
I have read books about the assassinations of the 1960s, mostly the ones that occurred on on American soil. I was 13 when JFK was gunned down. I have talked with many people over the years about JFK in particular and ALL of these people believe the Warren Report was a lie. The people I began talking to were mostly pro-Viet Nam Republicans and later were pro-Reagan Republicans. Our collective gut feeling: the US government was selling us a lie.
The differences come when one asks, "What should we do?" I have always been dismayed by the answers: "There's nothing we can do." "Why does it matter now?"
If a nation can NOT care that its popular leader was gunned down by his own government, then that nation not only suffered a coup d 'etat, it has lost its honor. The military/industrial//intelligence/prison complex has grown exponentially.  It will continue to grow. It has eaten the soul of my country.
There must be an influx of young military veterans who enter politics because they have seen and experienced the waste of blood and money over the last 13 years. The expressed soul of the United States has been transferred to soldiers. There are all kinds of soldiers. Some of them know that to do unto others as you would have them do unto you (see Matthew 7:12) is so wise it could rise above its humble religious beginning, a mere utterance of Jesus, to the highest level of respect, the ultimate object of worship in the United States - military policy.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

about dueling, and not with banjos

I just read a bit of this article on Huffington Post wherein Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky bemoaned the fact that he could not challenge someone to a duel and still be a United States Senator. You know what? I'd vote for a return to dueling in the United States and I swear to God, I MEAN it!
Dueling, as I understand it from history books and novels (mainly novels) was considered a gentlemen's activity. It was governed by strict rules of protocol. A man could lose his reputation for life if he cheated in a duel or shrank from an honorable challenge. I would not change all of this. However, there were some people who were so scorned by "gentle" society that it was permissible for a gentleman to ignore the challenge and not lose face. I would absolutely change this for the United States. We are, excuse me, we claim to be, a democracy. Therefore, I, as a lower middle class adult could be spurned by, say, Donald Trump if I challenged him to a duel. No, no, no. If I challenge Donald Trump or Rudolf the Red-Nosed Giuliani to a duel, and they refuse, they MUST possibly face a lifetime of humiliation - titters, giggles, averted eyes as they enter the five-star restaurant. Subtle insults from humble desk clerks as they check in to their over-priced hotel. Outright insubordination from underlings who are willing to face a duel with the proven coward. Oh, yes. I am serious as death on this.

As I am only recommending a return to dueling in the States, I insist that only guns be allowed in duels. After all, we are the Kings of Guns. Sure, we are also the Kings of Small Landmines, but what the hell - do we really want it legal to plant landmines on hiking trails and children's playgrounds? I mean within our borders, of course. Hell no!

We Americans probably provided every single gun that killed the tens of thousands of innocent Mexicans in their recent drug wars. Our drug habits and phony "War on Drugs" provided the gangsters with the motivation to use those guns. Yes, only guns for American dueling. It just makes sense. American pragmatism. What, we're going to stand by with our hands in our pockets while innocent children are slaughtered by guns and then say, no, no, Samuri swords are ok, too? Bullshit. That is unAmerican, and as the entire world BETTER Goddamn know by now, "Whatever America wants, America gets" (sing it to the tune of "Whatever Lola Wants.")

Now we DO have a few issues to address here with the use of guns in duels. I'll start with big clips and auto- or semi-automatic weapons. It is very distasteful to me to allow these, however, as they are American as apple pie, it's hard to think of the proper argument against them. How about this - any American hunter who went after an elk or deer with an AK-47 would be laughed out of Idaho, right? So, I think it is reasonable to put into law that no dueling gun is legal if it's use on an elk or a deer would tear up the meat of that game animal beyond respectable dining. Don't get me wrong, now. This is not an anti-Second Amendment essay. I understand that it is perfectly Constitutional to buy and use guns that could kill an entire elementary school population in under a minute. I'm not arguing that point. It's, what's the word? Generally accepted criteria? Settled law? Something like that.  Anyway, this essay is NOT about protecting children for God's sake; it's about honor.

Another thing I find distasteful in this modern, enlightened era is the Old West-style facedown on the streets. You know, holstered six-shooters, men standing with their hands near the gun until one of them makes the move and then - BLAM. But then, you know, this is not the old West. This is modern America. We have laws here about the rights of handicapped people, and is that old style fair to the handicapped? No way. You can't run a business in the United States without providing a wheel chair ramp so why should the winning of a duel depend upon who can move the fastest? That's not the American Way. We're too civilized to allow any old able-bodied asshole to go around challenging paraplegics and racking up notches to impress the saloon girls. No, no, no. The speed of drawing the gun out of the holster must not come into play. However, one can't help the fact that SOME degree of physicality is involved, so let's just stay with the old-school single shot pistol held casually by one's side until the permission to fire is given. Then we can keep the drama of the drawn out battle of nerves. I love that. You know, the nervous guy raises his pistol and fires quickly, misses, and then must stand still while the better man takes careful aim and - Blooey! Yeah, one shot, but if both men survive they can always take off their gloves, slap the other's face lightly - whap, whap - and do it all over again! Now that's cool!

I do apologize to the ladies for my constant use of the masculine pronoun. I do believe in equal rights; I do! Therefore, any adult over the age of, say, 18, must have the right to challenge any other adult, male or female. And we must not only forgo sexism; we must also forgo ageism. For instance, just because Pat Robertson is an old fool, must I allow him to continually offend my sensibilities? NO!! Now, if I ONLY challenge old, feeble folks I risk a loss of reputation, so it behooves me to challenge Pat one day and Franklin Graham the next. Or, I can take on Laura Ingraham and then Ann Coulter.

There are no other rules of engagement then, other than the fact that one is offended and, if that offensive adult accepts the challenge, what will be will be. There will always be some people who will refuse the challenge without losing face among the people they care about. Damn Anabaptists! Damn hippies! You and your separate little peaceful loving communes! This is America! Love it or leave it!

I could go on about the economic benefits (a sky-rocketing use of gun ranges, etc.), population control, reality TV shows ... But the primary issue here is a free expression of Constitutional Rights, God Bless 'Em.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

It's time for you to research the "Oath Keepers" - know the status of your county

In the United States an organization called the Southern Poverty Law Center has done a remarkable job for years in tracking and exposing Neo-Nazis, Neo-Confederates, the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups. They have been keeping track, also, of a newer organization - the Oath Keepers. For an introduction to this militarist group read this article. If this information does not send chills down your spine then, I suppose you are a prime candidate to donate some money to them. If you are a military veteran or currently in the military, a police officer at any level (active or retired), or a firefighter, the Oath Keepers wants you!
What do they want you to do? First, sign their pledge. See it here. The bedrock of the purpose of this oath is that you, as a county sheriff or other law enforcement officer will organize to fight any forces of the United States government or its people who seek to impose ANY restrictions AT ALL on the right to own guns. NO restrictions of any kind, be it number or type or registration of fire arms are considered by this group to be Constitutional.  By the way, they also oppose Obamacare.
Now the Oath Keepers are organizing Special "Civilization Preservation" Teams. These teams will consist of:

Two communications experts.
Two Medics.
Two Combat Engineers (who can do more than demolitions. They can also build bridges, dig wells, install water-treatment, irrigation systems, etc. ).
Two weapons experts.
An Operations NCO.
An Assistant Operations NCO who also does intelligence.

A commanding officer, and his assistant commanding officer

 See this and MUCH more at this Oath Keepers site. They clearly explain the nature of their dream and it is nothing less than a recipe for Civil War.
Here is part of the Oath Keeper vision for "sub-teams"

Neighborhood Watch Team. To help form neighborhood watches throughout the local community and liaison with them.
Local Government Team. To get to know the local town council, county government, judges, county attorney, etc, and observe each town and county government meeting. This is the team that will draft and introduce militia bills, posse bills, and nullification bills, among other items to support liberty at the local level, and will help liaison with them all during emergencies.
Intelligence Team.   To gather, analyze, and disseminate intelligence on who is doing what, where, when, and why.

See the entire idea laid out at this Oath Keepers website from which I copied the above material. In short, the Oath Keepers are preparing for a showdown, a showdown against fellow citizens and against the government of the United States. They are quite particular in desiring highly trained special ops veterans. The clear implication is that they are preparing to fight a Civil War within the United States and that they are demonizing ANYONE, whether a duly-elected official or a common citizen who disagrees with them and that they believe it their patriotic duty to threaten ANYONE who disagrees with them. From what I know of history it sounds much like the Nazi Brownshirts on steroids.
I read a couple of editorials recently in the Guardian by Henry Porter that I much enjoyed. The first one was pointing out that the U.S. has lost more citizens to gun violence within our borders than in ALL our wars combined. Possibly with tongue in cheek he asked if perhaps the world community should intervene in this humanitarian crisis or at least if travel warnings should be issued. The other editorial basically said, oh sure the Tea Party Republicans are making a mess of things financially right now, but don't worry, the good old U.S. will come to its senses.
I don't think so. A house divided against itself cannot stand. Lincoln said that.
I just looked up a list of counties within the United States whose sheriffs have signed the Oath Keepers pledge. The list is current as of January, 2013. Here it is. If you or your family are considering a vacation in the U.S. you might like to know the mindset of the place you are going to. Want to go to Disney World? Be informed that ALL county sheriffs in Florida are oath keepers. 30 of 33 counties in New Mexico are patrolled by oath Keepers. Does this mean that you are in danger in any of the 225 U.S. counties whose chief law enforcement officer is an Oath Keeper? Well, probably not. I mean unless you happen to be in the U.S. on the day our new Civil War breaks out. Or if you are not lilly-white. Or if you have a strong un-American accent. Or if you just happen to be in the way of one of the 289 people who are shot on a daily average in the U.S. 
If you investigate this phenomenon you will find all kinds of things the Oath Keepers are concerned with besides gun ownership, but it is clear that the ENTIRE structure of this group is based on the Second Amendment and that the ONLY interpretation of the second amendment they accept is unlimited gun ownership, unlimited type of gun, unlimited clip capacity.
If there were ANY other amendment in the Bill of Rights that Oath Keepers were truly concerned with it wouldn't be so scary. How about free speech? 
A portent I am watching for:  Openly displayed guns at or near voting sites on election day.
As part of the post 9/11 "Homeland Security" laws, counties across the United States received money for military-style weapons. As a teacher, I watched a demonstration of the Apache County Sheriff's gear and expertise. Watch out Al Qaeda, they have helicopters, armored tank-like vehicles, a SWAT team ... Man, if I was a bank robber THAT would have been the day -)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

about the United States and Murphy's Law

Eric Schlosser's new book Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety has turned my thinking back to accidents. In my last post I referred to Edward McClelland's analysis of the middle class in the United States. He called it an accident. If he's right, I'd add that the temporary phenomenon known as "The American Dream" has been replaced with a nightmare. That nightmare is economic and it is a nightmare that I doubt will rise to the conscious level of most Americans as a true "class warfare" issue. Rather than analysis I will try to make that point with a true story.
I chatted with a man on Padre Island in 2011, the first year I camped there with my dog Edy, writing songs and practicing up for Austin open mics. He was the manager of a Sears appliance repair facility. It was his career; he was something like 20 years into the job. He told me that, despite the overall problems of the Sears corporation, appliance sales and maintenance were still profit centers. Yet, he also told me of the downsizing his unit had undergone and his relief at surviving with a decent income. Then, he tells me of the immigrant employees he supervises and how they all say, "America is the best country in the world for an immigrant." He said it obviously as a statement of the greatness of the United States. I thought, well yeah, if you're immigrating from anywhere except Great Britain, Germany, France, Canada, etc., sure, "America, what a country."
Now, I'm reading about how close the United States has come to accidental (what a shame I must add that word) nuclear detonations within our borders! Go here, to Politico, for an interview with Eric Schlosser. Or here on Or go here for The Guardian book review and interview.
Pete Seeger began his lovely book Where Have All the Flowers Gone: a Musical Autobiography with a discussion of Murphy's Law - "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." It seems that from a rational point of view a huge proportion of the human race is doomed. There are just too many BIG things that can go wrong! In the United States, a sizeable minority controls the government. This minority has a distressing penchant for banding together on Big Issues, so it doesn't much matter how one refers to them: they are The Religious Right, The Gun Nuts, The Unscientific Minded, The Haters of the UN, the rascist, ignorant, manipulated masses ... In short, The Republican Party. These dangerous people are enabled by: those who eschew politics altogether, those who pay no attention to real news, those who never receive "news" from a source that covers the rest of the world, those who have only one issue and they "got theirs" whether it be marriage or marijuana or...  In short Democrats and non-voters.
I heard a BBC reporter use the word "perverse" in relation to the inability of the United States to view gun violence as an important issue. Yes, it is perverse that our Congress cannot pass a Constitutional fix that would address gun ownership AND drastically reduce gun violence. Yes, it is perverse that our Supreme Court elected a president and WE did NOT take to the streets in protest!!
And it is perverse that WE go on with, I think I will call it, The Presidential Obsession. One Man, or maybe One Woman, will lead us back to the American Dream, the Promised Land ... The United States is unconsciously begging for a dictator.

über die Vereinigten Staaten und Murphys Gesetz

Eric Schlosser neues Buch Command and Control : Nuclear Weapons , die Damaskus- Unfall , und die Illusion von Sicherheit hat mein Denken wieder zu Unfällen geworden. In meinem letzten Beitrag habe ich auf Edward McClelland Analyse der Mittelschicht in den Vereinigten Staaten. Er nannte es ein Unfall. Wenn er Recht hat , würde ich hinzufügen, dass die vorübergehende Erscheinung als "The American Dream" bekannt, mit einem Alptraum wurde ersetzt . Das Alptraum ist die wirtschaftliche und es ist ein Alptraum , dass ich bezweifle, werden dem bewussten Ebene der meisten Amerikaner als eine wahre " Klassenkampf "-Ausgabe steigen. Anstatt Analyse werde ich versuchen, diesen Punkt mit einer wahren Geschichte zu machen.
Ich unterhielt mich mit einem Mann auf Padre Island im Jahr 2011 , dem ersten Jahr habe ich dort mit meinem Hund Edy lagerten , Songs zu schreiben und Üben für Austin offenen Mikrofone . Er war der Manager eines Sears Appliance Reparatur-Service. Es war seine Karriere , er war so etwas wie 20 Jahre in den Arbeitsmarkt . Er erzählte mir , dass trotz der allgemeinen Probleme der Sears Corporation, Gerät Vertrieb und die Wartung noch Profit Centern . Doch er erzählte mir auch von der Verkleinerung seiner Einheit erlitten hatte und seine Erleichterung zu überleben mit einem anständigen Einkommen. Dann erzählt er mir von den ausländischen Arbeitnehmer betreut er und wie sie alle sagen: " Amerika ist das beste Land in der Welt für Einwanderer . " Er sagte, es offensichtlich als eine Aussage über die Größe der Vereinigten Staaten . Ich dachte, na ja, wenn Sie von einwandernden sind überall mit Ausnahme von Großbritannien , Deutschland, Frankreich , Kanada, usw. , sicher , "Amerika , was für ein Land. "
Jetzt bin ich darüber, wie nahe die Vereinigten Staaten , um eine versehentliche ( was für eine Schande muss ich dieses Wort hinzufügen ) nukleare Detonationen innerhalb unserer Grenzen kommen beim Lesen! Gehen Sie hier , um politisch , für ein Interview mit Eric Schlosser . Oder hier auf . Oder gehen Sie hier für The Guardian Buchbesprechung und Interview.
Pete Seeger begann seine schönes Buch Wohin sind alle Blumen gegangen sind : - " . Alles, was schief gehen kann , wird schief gehen ", ein Musical Autobiography mit einer Diskussion über Murphys Gesetz Es scheint, dass von einem rationalen Standpunkt aus ein riesiger Teil der Menschheit dem Untergang geweiht ist . Es gibt einfach zu viele Dinge, die BIG schief gehen kann ! In den Vereinigten Staaten, steuert eine beträchtliche Minderheit der Regierung. Diese Minderheit hat eine Vorliebe für belastend Banding zusammen auf großen Themen , so dass es nicht egal, wie viel man sie bezieht : sie sind der religiösen Rechten , die Gun Nuts , The Unscientific Minded , The Haters von der UNO, der rascist , ignorant , manipulierten Massen ... Kurz gesagt, die Republikanische Partei . Diese gefährlichen Menschen ermöglicht durch: diejenigen, die Politik insgesamt scheuen , diejenigen, die keine Aufmerksamkeit zu schenken wirklichen Neuigkeiten , diejenigen, die nie erhalten "news" von einer Quelle , die den Rest der Welt , diejenigen, die nur ein Thema haben, und sie " bekam deckt ihre "ob es Ehe oder Marihuana zu sein oder ... Kurz Demokraten und Nichtwähler .
Ich hörte ein BBC-Reporter das Wort " pervers " in Bezug auf die Unfähigkeit der Vereinigten Staaten, um Waffengewalt als wichtiges Thema ansehen . Ja, es ist pervers, dass unser Kongress nicht passieren kann eine konstitutionelle Update, Waffenbesitz ansprechen möchte UND drastisch reduzieren Waffengewalt . Ja, es ist pervers, dass unsere Supreme Court einen Präsidenten gewählt und wir haben nicht auf die Straße aus Protest nehmen !
Und es ist pervers, dass wir weitermachen mit , ich denke, ich werde es nennen, die Präsidentschafts- Obsession . Ein Mann , oder vielleicht Eine Frau , führt uns zurück zu den amerikanischen Traum , das gelobte Land ... Die Vereinigten Staaten sind unbewusst Betteln für einen Diktator .

Friday, September 20, 2013

Edward McClelland's analysis at is superb!

I was born in 1950 in Amarillo, Texas. I never had a hard time finding a job until the late '80s. I moved from state to state. The first job I kept for 12 months was one of the hardest I ever had. It was at Iowa Beef Packers in Amarillo. I was pushing 30. I was in the Teamsters Union, my first union job and it was the first time I earned over a thousand dollars a month.
I was a bottom-feeder when it came to jobs. I'd show up in a town, find out where the local Manpower or other daily work agency was and the next morning I'd be there at 6am, among the first 10 or so men waiting for a job of work. 
Once in New Haven, Connecticut, I worked a couple of days at the Schick Razor plant. It was huge. Forklifts (ah, how I loved operating forklifts - the first step up from the pallet jack), truck loading docks. .. I remember being surprised that such a huge plant manufactured such a tiny product!
My first awakening to the new United States was when I called a Manpower company to ask what time I should show up in the morning to get a day job. I was asked my phone number. I didn't have a phone number; I was calling from a pay phone. I was told that Manpower required workers to have a phone and an address. The earth had shifted under my feet.
I've never read a sharper, concise analysis of my country's economy than RIP, the middle class: 1946-2013. It's here  on
Please check out my album: Texas Socialist Infiltration Dance Songs Instigated and Agitated by Burl Dunn.  It's on iTunes and other likely download sites.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Fear the man who don't give a f***

I love that this song works in the tradition of the Murder Ballad (a quite jolly sounding one, too) and as a warning for punishing innocent people (a theme of Contrary) AND as a warning to the US in it's relentless efforts to police the world.

                         Fear the Man
                    from the album Contrary

I had a hundred dollars in my wallet
Had a 6-shooter 25 in my pocket
Every bone in my body said, You’re out of luck
Every synapse in my brain fired, I don’t give a fuck

You don’t need to fear a tough talkin’ man
He’s just tryin’ to bluff you any way he can
Fear this, you can bet your last buck
Fear the man who don’t give a fuck

I had a hundred dollars and a lot of gall
He was a rich man bettin’ it all
I kept winnin’, he kept grinnin’
But his mind was not on poker at all

You don’t need to fear a tough talkin’ man
He’s just tryin’ to bluff you any way he can
Fear this, and you can bet your last buck
Fear the man who don’t give a fuck

He kept raisin’ the ante, I kept rakin’ it in
When I noticed a smile had replaced his grin
I looked him close right in the eye
He looked somewhere over my shoulder

I knew from his eyes what was in his head
In his mind I was lying there dead
His right hand went under the table
By the time he’d touched his gun I had done what I was able

Well you don’t need to fear a tough talkin’ man
He’s just tryin’ to bluff you any way he can
Fear this, you can bet your last buck
Fear the man who don’t give a fuck

I leaned over his body, looked him in the eye
He looked somewhere over my shoulder
I left his gun, I took his wallet
It contained a small fortune I’d have to call it

Instrumental break

Hell, you don’t have to fear a tough talkin’ man
He’s just tryin’ to bluff you any way he can
Fear this, you can bet your last buck
Fear the man who don’t give a fuck

I left it all except for the cash
Put it in my pocket where I keep my stash
I took care of the fingerprint mess
Nobody ever knew I was at that address

You don’t have to fear a tough talkin’ man
He’s just tryin’ to bluff you any way he can
Fear this, and you can bet your last buck
Fear the man who don’t give a fuck

Why in the world would you run a man down
With disdain and contempt actin’ like he’s a clown
You think you’re dominating while you mire him in the muck
You’re creating a man who don’t give a fuck
You’re creating a man who don’t give a fuck
You’re creating the man who don’t give a fuck

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Momma Needs Morphine

                                            Momma Needs Morphine
                                            copyright by Burl Dunn
                                           from the album Contrary
Momma needs morphine
She’s 89
Momma needs morphine
She’s lost her mind
Momma’s in hospice
So what is your excuse
Not to ease her pain
It’s abuse
My Momma needs Morphine

Momma fell down
She broke her hip
Less than 24 hours later
They are giving me lip
When I asked for something
To ease her pain
They gave her a little pill
Of artificial codeine
My Momma needs morphine

Momma needs morphine
She’s 89
Momma needs morphine
She’s lost her mind
Momma’s in hospice
So what is your excuse
Not to ease her pain
It’s abuse

Momma has dementia, it’s so severe
When I visit she doesn’t even
Know it’s me here
Momma keeps on tryin’
To get out of bed
If I fall asleep
She might fall down dead
Momma needs morphine

Doctors and hospitals want her alive ‘till Judgement Day
‘Cause her good insurance will pay and pay.
Momma needs morphine

Momma needs morphine
She’s 89
Momma needs morphine
She’s lost her mind
Momma’s in hospice
So what is your excuse
Not to ease her pain
It’s abuse
Momma needs Morphine

Momma means money
To these jerks
Momma means money
So what if she hurts
It’s the hypocritical oath
It’s the AMA
They run the system
Just to get more pay
Momma needs morphine
Not more fiends
Momma needs morphine
Not more fiends
Momma needs morphine

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Release the innocent prisoners

Here is a link to the story about the U.S. federal government's decision on recreational marijuana.
Although of great personal interest to many of us (see my way earlier blogs), this  decision should become part of a larger push for personal freedom. We cannot forget the innocent, adults and children, who are locked behind bars. They are in prisons and jails in the U.S., they are in Guantanamo, they are in secret prisons around the world (America's gulag) ...
Now, sticking to today's announcement on marijuana, letting Colorado and Washington states' pioneering laws and constitutional amendment (Colorado)  stand should be equivalent to admitting that all prisoners across the country who are incarcerated for a crime that is now legal in those two states should be immediately released.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

actually I KNOW I'd "love to shake the hand of Jimmy Carter!"

"Fritz (Mondale) is just back ... He thinks that Kennedy (Ted) has as a major goal the defeat of the Democratic ticket in November, and I think he's probably right." Jimmy Carter's White House Diary, pp. 431-432. You must read the book to see why President Carter said that in 1980.
I'd love to shake the hand of Jimmy Carter. Who sings that line? Blue Mountain?
Anyway, reading White House Diary is much better than watching the movie, I mean the CBS 60 Minutes show here on YouTube. This 15 or so minute segment is well worth watching as are the comments beneath the video. Reading this book has taken me back to a unique time in American history and my own life. I skipped to 1980-'81 because those were the years I best remember about his Presidency. Lesley Stahl does an excellent presentation in the abominable style of what passes for news in the United States today. This interview was apparently done in 2010, way into our Corporate fascist era in U.S. journalism. She uses the word "snarky" in reference to President Carter's diary. Sorry Lesley, but YOU were the snarky one.
What's so cool about the comments is how they show that so many Americans comprehend Jimmy Carter's presidency despite the snarky press coverage that he received, and still gets. What a cool, collected man. The only President who comes close to matching him in what I would call Christian behavior is President Obama! (The first trick is one must actually WATCH and LISTEN to Pres. Obama.) I do mean behavior, nothing else. The way they stay cool despite having to deal with assholes, to be blunt.
If I were rich enough to hire a personal assistant I'd put them right on researching this theory - Jimmy Carter was President at the exact moment when American democracy was hijacked by the right wing fundamentalist Republican Party and it took an awful lot of coordination from Nixon's presidency until then to accomplish that. Furthermore, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, et. awful, were right there along with the Southern Baptist Convention! More on that "Christian" denomination's role later.
Check out the opening moments when Lesley Stahl's skirt is up around her thighs, she pulls it down, and ... cut to President Carter. Snark can be achieved in post-production as well.

about my little blogosphere and my "explicit" lyrics

Somewhat sadly, the stats page of Google blog shows my highest one day readership was 50 on August 21st. I know better (now) to begin a blog with a sentence like that. It'll end up on a search page. You think I care? Well, not about this post.
I don't know why because I didn't post that day. I'd like to crack 100 readers routinely, but the thing that keeps me at it is the interesting countries where I have had readers: U.S, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, South Korea, Poland, China, Indonesia, and Israel! (Oh, Canada where are you?)
On Jango Radio 420 people from all over the world have pressed the "fan" button and out of the countries listed above the highest number are in Israel. Very interesting. I love it - fans in the Philippines and Singapore and many other places!
When I listed my albums on CD Baby I had to list my lyrics as clean or explicit. Well, I used to be a teacher. Cannabis is not for kids so all but one of my "explicit" songs are listed that way because of some kind of reference to marijuana. They are hardly dirty songs and I imagine I could easily have called them "clean" with no problem. If you look at my downloads and CD order page on Amazon you can see the regretful results. You'd think I was doing porn! The song "Fear the Man" contains the word "fuck" many times because it's in the refrain: "Fear the Man who don't give a fuck." Rhyming with "bet your last buck." It's part of the album Contrary and I very much had U.S. foreign policy on my mind as well as how the song works into the story of the innocent man in the song cycle.
Now you know.
(Hours later ....) Good God, on the blog above I finished the intro "Burl Dunn Thinks ...) with "Actually, I knows I'd love to shake the hand of of Jimmy Carter." And I can't edit the "share" - it's like an email sent.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

One hard-ass, workin' Texas gal, a story

This story is fiction only because the names have been changed and all the facts can’t be verified. So, this story is about as true as reporting is on the most important stuff. You know, secret prisons, what’s behind the influence of the CIA, etc. Just like that. True as hell; try and prove it ain’t.

A guy named Bill told me it in a bar. If we hadn’t ended up in a booth with no one nearby he’d have never told me, especially the part about one event that happened when he was a child that he seemed to be over within less than a year, but which now he claimed ruined his entire life. I mean, compared to, say, having a drone sneak up on your uncle’s wedding and killing your entire family except for you and you’re just eight years old - compared to that this is just whining, but I found it compelling – I was spellbound for nine beers.

“ So, ok,” Bill begins, “This is too complex if I try and separate all the parts that I saw happen, that I was a part of, from the parts that I figured out later. And then there’s the stuff that preceded this, ok, so it’s more like a snapshot of a moment. But in that snapshot you can see lot’s more, you know? Like a Diane Arbus picture, you know? Like, what we were just talking about JFK and Bobby and Martin, you know? That moment when it hits you like a punch in the gut and you go, ‘Oh my God, the government killed them all,’ you know.”

“Yeah, yeah, I got you. You know I had a cousin who just died of some kind of heart disease. It’d been diagnosed over a year before. The doctor told her she could die at any time, right? Now, get this. Her husband is a Baptist preacher, right? And this is a small Texas town. Everybody knows everybody. So I hear from my sister, ‘She died in her sleep. And the autopsy showed it was her heart.’ And, in the moment, you know, I just want to finish up the conversation, ok? I got the news, sorry to hear it, well we all knew it was coming, thanks for calling, would you mind putting my name on your card? You know. Then I hang up and it hits me. Autopsy?! What the fuck they need an autopsy for? Did someone think her preacher husband had killed her in her sleep?”

“Yeah, I hear you. What is this shit with autopsies? Cutting up bodies. It only makes sense when you suspect a crime has been committed, you know? You know what, talk about a punch in the gut. You know how every time there’s a plane crash they conduct a thorough investigation. Spend weeks, months if they have to. Finding the black box, looking at this, looking at that, right? So, it hits me. 9/11. Bush ordered the mess cleaned up as soon as possible, right? He fucking ORDERS that there will be no real investigation, right? And barges haul all this debris, which is the evidence, right? Barges haul it to secret locations and places that are off limits, classified sites and shit, you remember?”

“Oh, yeah,” I answered, “I’m with you. So, the most important plane crashes in American history occur. By the end of the day, they say, ‘We know who did it. We know how it all went down. Here’s pictures. It was Osama Bin Laden.’ And they’re flying his relatives back to Saudi Arabia, right? But, this Baptist preacher has to have his wife’s body invaded before the burial?”

“Yeah,” Bill says. “And Bush says. It’s too distressing for Americans to see all this. We’re going to clean it up pronto. Get it out of sight. You ready?”
“Yeah, I’ll stick with Bass. I gotta go to the little boys room. I’ll get the next round.”
“Sure.” Bill gets this look. “And when you come back you’ll be seeing a man about a dog?”
“ You go. And if it doesn’t bore the hell out of you I got a story to tell you about a dog.”
“Ha. Gotcha. Be right back.”

So I’m not a bar kind of guy really. I always looked at it like hey, I can go to the store and buy six beers for the price of two in a bar. But now, I’m gettin’ up there. I’ve most always done my drinking alone while I was playing guitar. But now, fuck it, I’m lonely. You know, I got no male drinking buddy. My wife won’t drink. Doesn’t like me to drink. So, it’s worth it to go to a bar. I always talk to somebody and once in a while I hit it off with some stranger and I end up getting stuff off my chest that I wouldn’t, or couldn’t tell another living soul, you know?

So, Bill and I settle in. He starts in, “I was just thinking. This story may bore you to tears. So just tell me, ok, and I’ll stop. I mean, we’ve never seen each other before and I may never see you again. And I want to tell somebody this thing that hit me in the gut. Well, I’ll know if you think I’m a nut and I’ll stop the story. Or you just …”

“Yeah, yeah. Go ahead. I’m into it. Tell me before I’m too drunk to listen, ok? I do this, too. Go. Tell me about the dog.”
“Ok. I’ll just start with the whipping.”
“You whipped a dog?”
“Hell no. My momma was whipping me.”
“Ok, I’m like eight years old. We just moved into a nice brick house in the suburbs.”
“Amarillo, Texas. I grew up there. It was nice for a kid, you know? Both my parents worked. It was, let’s see, I was eight. It was 1958. We left our doors unlocked, you know? I could walk to and from school. I’d get home, I could ride my bike. In five minutes I’d be out of town, out in farmland, pasture land, you know? I was really into riding that bike man.”
“Ok, got it. The dog?”
“Ok, was he fat”
“No. I can’t remember why I named her Pudgy. She was a cute little cocker spaniel. Not a pure-bred, but she was a cocker spaniel. For the first time we had a nice fenced in back yard so I got a dog. My first memories about her are me, like, tickling her chest. I was sure I made her hair go curly there from all the tickling. She was … you like dogs?”
“Oh yeah.”
“So you understand me when I say I loved her more than anything? I mean more than ANYTHING. If you said, ‘Bill you can either ride your bike or stay home and play with Pudgy,’ there’d of been no contest. I’m with the dog.”
“You ever see “Old Yeller?”
“Oh yeah, cried like a baby man.”
“Me, too. And I read dog books. I remember “Big Red” and “Lassie Comes Home,” right? We had a World Book Encyclopedia, man, and when I looked up dogs they had pages of dogs. Neat pictures. Hunting dogs. Working dogs. You know.”
“Oh yeah. Don’t tell me the internet is ever going to replace looking through a good encyclopedia.”
“No way. So, anyway, I loved her. Thinking now I think I loved her more than I loved my family, but you’re a kid, you’re only eight. You don’t think about that, you know? They’re your family, right? You think you love ‘em. And you do, but it’s, what? It’s a … it’s a conditional love, you know? We were Baptists. I believed I was bad, you know? ‘For all have sinned …’ stuff.”
“So, my parents would spank me with a belt sometimes. And this one day, I don’t remember why, but my Mom was wailing away at me on the back porch. I’d put my hands back there, but she kept on, hurt my hands, so I moved them. And then, there’s Pudgy, man. And she was barking and snarling, scratching at my Mom’s legs, you know? Protecting her master, it’s just instinct, right?”
“So my mom had just gotten in from work. She worked in an office and she liked to dress snazzy, you know” She wore nice, I guess silk, stockings, and Pudgy was tearing ‘em up. I remember laughing, like right from crying and going, ‘No, mommy, no’ to laughing - kind of hysterical I guess. So she takes the belt to my dog, but Pudgy stays in there, man. I don’t remember her biting mom, just scratching up her legs and snarling. Man, to me it was like a book or a movie. That’s what dogs do, right? You don’t have to train ‘em. They love you to death. They’ll die for you, man.”
“Oh, yeah.”
“So, I don’t know. I’ve got a vivid memory of her spanking me. My butt, my legs, my hands, whatever. And I remember laughing and then everything changed. Her expression. I don’t even remember if I had got down to protect Pudgy or if she just stopped. I think she just stopped and went in the house, Pudgy still going for her legs.”
“Wow, that’s a dog, man.”
“Yeah, and I stayed outside. Me and Pudgy hugging and her licking me, you know?”
“So, I don’t remember how things went down when my Dad came home. He probably whipped me some more for good measure. Inside the house. Anyway, all I remember is the next day I get home from school, the back gate is open and Pudgy is gone.”
“Pudgy is gone. But you know, Lassie comes home, man. She could have gone out, but she would have would have come back in, too. She knows where home is.  But she’s not in the alley. I spend the whole afternoon walking up and down the alley, calling, ‘Pudgy, Pudgy, reet, reet, reet (he was whistling), here Girl, Pudgy.’ But she’s gone, man. My parents get home about the same time and say, “Well, did you leave the gate open when you threw out the trash?” Man, all my life all you had to do to get me was lay a guilt trip on me. So that turned my mind to blaming myself, then there was some speculation. She looks like a pure bred. I bet someone took her. Maybe someone opened the gate from the alley and left it open when they left. Anyway, I was just a stupid kid. It didn’t hit me until I was middle-aged with two out of three kids grown up. All these thoughts like, if someone came into our yard they could have come on into the house and stolen SOMETHING. You know, and a lot of other things it’d take too long and whiny to get into, but one of them was remembering so vividly that look on my mother’s face when she went from  being mad as hell, whipping my ass, to just stopping. Oh yeah, she said, “That dog ruined my hose,” and just went inside.” So one day it hit me like a punch in the gut, “My mom had my dad take Pudgy away. I wonder if he shot her or just took her so far away she couldn’t find her way home.”
“But Lassie comes home.”
“Yeah. Every day after school I came home and looked for Pudgy. On foot, on my bike. With binoculars even, ha. I remember going out in a snow storm looking for her. Man, I just knew I’d find her. I just knew she’d come back. I didn’t give up for months, man.”
“Pudgy was dead.”
“Yep, I think so. If my Dad didn’t do it then I’ll bet she got her daddy to.”
“ So before we both start crying here let’s get set up.” So Bill got the beer and I took another leak, thinking. Feeling bad for that little boy looking for his dog. Then it hit me like a punch in the gut.
We settled down again and, what the fuck, if this had been a friend I might not have had the guts to handle it this way. I said, “Bill?”
“Tell me quick without thinking one good thing about your mother.”
“Well … That woman worked her ass off. Her good job is the reason we got by. My Dad was a salesman all his life and he either got a good commission, a bad commission, or nothing at all when things were bad. Oh, and she was in the union, man.”
“Which one?”
“Communications Workers of America.”
“Telephone company, huh?”
“Oh yeah. That’s pretty good, huh, for Texas? A union woman from the 1940s when she was a telephone operator. You know, plugging in those wires.”
“Did she cook?”
“ Damn good meat and potatoes. Not much on vegetables. From a can. Oh, except for fried okra. And you know what? Every Saturday morning for a long time she got up on Saturday morning and made cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Hey, I see where you’re going with this.”

“You remember, about two hours ago when we first met we were talking about that damn Keystone Pipeline?”
“We talked about Rick Perry and how he wanted a mile-wide line all the way through the United States? And how the damn Democrats would probably open the door to that by okaying the pipeline? And how that’d be the thin wedge that, after that, why not lay down some train tracks along side, and a highway, and electrical lines, and the damn Democrats would end up making Governor  Rick Perry’s wet dream come true?”
“Well, yeah. Now, I don’t see where you’re going.”
“Well, excuse me, but you know I told you I was a songwriter? And I’m drunk and I’m going to go poetical on you.”
“Ha ha. Go man.”
“Well, that Pudgy thing? I understand it broke your heart. I bet your Mom did it, too, but you know what? That thing is your own personal Keystone Pipeline and …”
“Oh, brother, you are drunk.”
“I know. Fuck it. But man, that thing is like the Keystone Pipeline in your heart, man. It’s the thin wedge that took you down the road into forgetting all the good stuff and the more you dwell on it, the wider that pipeline gets.”
“Fuckin’ corny man.”
“ So are some of my songs. But they make a point.”
Bill looked at me, kinda opened his mouth, then shut it. I think his eyes got a little moist.”
“If you’ll shut up, I’ll buy a last round.”
We got our beers and Bill held his up. I reached mine over and we clinked glasses.
Bill said, “Burl, to my Momma …” I could tell he had more but couldn’t get it out.
“To your Momma. One hard-ass, workin’ Texas gal.”
“Yes, sir.”
“Hey Bill.”
“ How can we convince those damn Democrats not to open the door to Rick Perry’s wet dream?”
“I think we’ll have to meet tomorrow and figure that out.”
Damn, it was good to have a drinkin’ buddy again.

                                                      Aillen Gilliland Dunn, 1923-2012
My kids would be appalled that I called her "hard ass." They remember a sweetie. Sure, she was that, too. The story is fiction, however.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Songwriter and the Dog - complete short story w/song

Johnny told me, “So here's everything you need to know if you want to make it as a singer - songwriter: it's just as tough as making it as an ugly whore. There are better looking women out there who'll do it for free. That's where the competition starts. Most of the time you only find a niche with those who failed to score with the beautiful girl. Not all the time, though. There are some who want things they can't get from the beautiful girl. There are some who want to do things they wouldn't dare do to the beautiful girl.

“The next thing to know is that singer/songwriters are like gunslingers and only some, as Townes Van Zandt knew ‘wear their guns outside their pants for all the honest world to feel.’ These songwriters want to blow you away. OK, some are more like Mac the Knife. They want to cut you. You know, like in jazz - to cut someone is to play so much better that you slink away or fade away or, as you take your next break, pretend that you're not just a bloody stump with a horn.”

“What can destroy a shy songwriter with some good chops and good lyrics, and that’s how I see you Burl, is to see all those semi-successful no-talent bastards with attitude. You see, in the entertainment business, attitude is equal to talent. Talent does not rise to the top. Attitude with a dose of talent does. And the ones with attitude got it by some alchemy of nature/nurture that you didn't get. You sit there and watch a guy go from C to F to C to F, ad infinitum. You hear hackneyed vocal lines and you think, this is shit. Then you look around and the room is filled with rapt attention and dreamy eyes and you think, what the fuck, I could do that when I was 13! Sure you could, but you had a shy attitude - you were a loser then and you're a loser now. The girls go for the boys who exude dangerous, edgy attitude not the very nice, shy ones with heads full of sensitivity.” Man, Johnny could go on.

“Now there's young attitude and there's old attitude. Young attitude should be perfectly enacted. Old attitude - they cut you some slack because they know your past. They admire the road you traveled. Once you were tough and hot and you rocked the house, so now you can get away with just reminding them of that – or maybe you’re one of those special old men who still rock the house like you did when you were young!” He went on.

“Before continuing I want to make the distinction between the only two types of musicians who count. There's the ones who can play. They range from the soulful C, F, and G types to some who really have nice chops - some can hang in any jam; they know some sophisticated chords; they have a number of pleasant songs. Then there's the Motherfuckers. They are Django Reinhardt, Paco de Lucia, Jimi Hendrix. I'm not talking about the Motherfuckers here. They are a breed apart and I am not worthy.

“To me the funniest way to get cut is by lyrics. When I listen to singer/songwriters I rarely walk away with any lyrics stuck in my head. I mean even the good players who made me nod my head and tap my foot. I enjoyed them, but nothing stuck. I finally figured out why. It's because they were singing about themselves and how sensitive they are. Makes me want to puke.” Johnny threw his head back and moaned:

“I'm receptive to your needs
I'm conscious of your wants
I feel things so deeply
I need to get deep inside of youuuuuu.

That man can never understand you
He can never give you what you need
Only I have the love so true
That can make you become brand newwwww.

“To  me, the worst of the worst is the good looking chick with performance attitude and sensitive songs. And low-cut dresses that swirl as she plays, dresses that you can almost see through. She expects you to fall in love with her. She's used to it. Before you know it you've bought her a drink, tipped her tomorrow's lunch money, and then her boyfriend comes in. He's not jealous. He knows you're just another useful john who will never get to first base, but who'll probably buy him a drink to be sociable before you excuse yourself.

“Oh, I'm such a curmudgeon. I forgot the hippies, the tried and true enthusiast who is just happy to be there. They play from the heart. They are infectious; they leave you feeling good. If they are also a Motherfucker, they are sure a rare gem.”

 That's what Johnny wanted and wanted it desperately. He wanted to go back to the 60s when he knew God. When he trusted the world. When he took no offense. All the shit in the world could be dumped on his head and roll like water off a duck's back. He played on.

Johnny was like that in the 60s. He loved his guitar so much he played all day. The calluses on his left hand were so thick that his left hand fingers were a quarter inch longer than the right hand. Sitting on the edge of his bed wailing out a new song was as exciting to him as if he were at Carnegie Hall.

Right now, Johnny was back in Texas. Not the part he grew up in, that flat, dusty, windy Panhandle - the part that makes the wind blow in Oklahoma (because it sucks). No, he was down around Austin and San Antonio, a beautiful place to be - in the winter when it's not 103 in the shade with 90% humidity. East Texas has more side-of-the-road rest areas, rest stops, and picnic areas than you can shake a stick at. They are a reminder of the gracious Texas, a reminder of the time when a few tax dollars were spent with the comfort of families in mind. Johnny's type of family - the kind that packed a cooler with sandwiches and bought a watermelon from a roadside stand. Picnic areas with nice mowed grass, tables, a water spigot, and a toilet.

You could be poor as dirt and yet have a place to be. Having a place - Johnny took that for granted as a kid. His family home was small, but Daddy had it almost paid off. He could ride his bike all around the neighborhood - his neighborhood. There's something wrong with a country that refuses to spend a few bucks for the public. A country where you have to go into a store and ask for a key to the restroom and where you get a hard look if you haven't spent any money there. A country without public parks and plentiful water and restrooms is a poor country that doesn't give a damn about kids.

Johnny was moving from rest area to rest area in a hundred square mile area. Some nights he was parked by a sweet little river or creek. Tall trees with leaves rustling in the breeze. Most nights there was no one else there and the stars at night were big and bright. And it was all his because everyone else was afraid to spend the night outdoors. Americans have become full of fear, that's why. Empires create fear both abroad and at home.

Johnny was practicing his songs, getting ready for the open mics he intended to play in Austin. He was 65 years old and thought he still had one more chance to make it if only he could do on a stage what he could do alone. All he wanted was for an artist to pick one of his songs. He still had the feeling in his heart, the muscle memory in his fingers and wrist, but the mind was slipping. He had to run through his song list every day to keep those lyrics fresh in his mind. And then in the bar, waiting for his turn to sing two or three songs, he drank and smoked. The smoke helped keep his voice solid on the low notes. The drink all too often made him slip up. He might sing one line out of order, keeping the meaning but ending on the wrong word, ruining the rhyme. Then he'd think about that and hit the wrong chord. Jesus, why oh why did I pick music as my dream career, thought Johnny. I'm a loner by nature, I can't cut loose in front of an audience. I'm tongue-tied and not having fun. Hell, I should have been a writer.

Johnny woke up to the sound of a bulldozer, a front end loader, and a truck. He stuck his head out the van door and a friendly Hispanic man said, "Sorry Buddy, I've got to ask you to move. We're tearing this place up today." "How come?" "Well, Texas passed this new law that allows neighbors to ask the state to remove rest areas and picnic areas." "Isn't it state land? Why would they want this nice place torn down?" "Yeah, it is nice. I can remember stopping here with my family when I was a kid. But people are claiming that drug users meet up here. They're scared and the law lets them decide." "So taxpayer dollars built this nice little place and one guy can have it torn down just like that? Does he have to pay for it?" "Hell, no. The taxpayers pay. It's a raw deal, but it's the law. Gotta ask you to take off so we can get to work."
So Johnny drove off to Sweet San Antone.
Sheep Springs, New Mexico is a bump in the crossroads. Westward are the Chuska Mountains of Navajo land, East is Chaco Canyon, an important Anasazi ruin; it's north to Colorado and south to Gallup, New Mexico (where everyone is a minority). Navajos spread out on the land so you can't see many hogans or houses from Sheep Springs, but they are out there. And each spread has dogs and the dogs have puppies.

Sheep Springs is mainly a convenience store with gas and some storage units. On weekends a flea market springs up around the parking lot and across the road. If there are a more enterprising people than the Navajo I've never seen them. All across the reservation there are Grandmas getting up at 4 and even 3 a.m. to make breakfast burritos to sell to folks on their way to work. They make the thick tortillas by hand. On weekends they set up little propane stoves and make fry bread, mutton stew, and Navajo Tacos fresh on the spot. Johnny kept track of what he called the Navajo fast food inflation index. His first mutton stew 10 years ago was three dollars. You just say mutton stew when you order. It's assumed that a big hot piece of frybread and a cup of coffee are part of the order. The last time it was five dollars. Inflation.

A pack of dogs was running around the flea market this winter. Every one was a female with the tits of a mother. Everyone had had a cute litter of puppies and every one was abandoned after that. It happens even in wealthy areas. This pack was a very cooperative little band. Winter is cold in Sheep Springs and during the long nights they huddled tightly together, pushing into each other for body heat. And every now and again a dog would find her way into the middle of the warm mass. Ahhh, blessed heat. There was no fighting; fighting was a waste of energy and it took you away from the warm mass. During the day the dogs begged for food at the flea market (bringing their own contribution of fleas) and jumped in and out of trash cans. So they were very friendly, both with each other and with people. As a cooperative mass they survived the cold and as friendly individuals they charmed food from hungry humans.

The dogs didn't know it, but plans were in the works to hunt them down. A little boy had been killed by a pack of wild dogs near Gallup. Animal Control was planning on bringing the trucks and a group of men with guns was planning on mopping up after that.

One particular dog didn't know it but a guitar player named Johnny was just now crossing the state line from Texas in an old Chevy van. He'd laid around and played around San Antonio for a week playing open mics at night then sleeping in picnic areas outside of town. And he was beginning to be noticed – and I don’t mean as a musician.

Johnny tried to spread out his nightly locations, but he knew the cops had his number. It's legal to spend less than 24 hours in one spot, but the problem for Johnny was driving sober to those spots. Alcoholism is a job hazard for musicians and in the U.S. the legal limit is so damn low. Hell, Johnny with one beer on an empty stomach was over the limit. He was ready for a break from the booze and the city so he was off to the Four Corners, an area about as vast as Alaska and almost as thinly populated. He had a few acres of cheap land with a funky cabin. And he had a sweet little yeller hound with the softest tongue in the world waiting to be saved.

Johnny pulled into Sheep Springs because he saw a frybread stand. As he got out about seven dogs came up, barking and romping in a friendly way. He was handed his frybread, the most greasy one he’d ever had. The bread was so hot that the excess lard pooled up on it without congealing. One little dog had the nerve to come close to Johnny. She was, I guess, a medium-sized dog, but on the small side of medium and she reminded Johnny of Old Yeller, a dog in a Disney movie he’d loved in his youth.
He held out a piece of the bread and she took it daintily, but wolfed it right down. Johnny said to her, “I might just come back for you.”

You see, Johnny was still in mourning for his last dog – also an abandoned rez dog. He felt a bit like a man might feel who’d lost his loving wife less than a year ago. It didn’t feel right to bring a new love into his life yet. Edy had been his best dog companion ever. Instead of telling you, let me put in this song he’d written about her.

Good Dog A’Mighty      c BurlDunn

I had a dog one time, I mean to tell you the best of her line

That sweet girl loved me to the end

When it got so she could hardly move her tail still wagged for me

You don’t have to tell me how to treat my best friend.

I got down on my knees, held her to my chest

She gave a long, relaxing sigh and surrendered to her death

At that moment the love that flowed was pure and blessed

You don’t have to tell me how to treat my best friend.

I howled at the moon, I growled at strangers

The pal I’d lost was ever ready for laughter and dangers

I’d give six more years for each one she gave me

You don’t have to tell me how to treat my best friend.

Every dog I’ve had has been all a dog can be

God help me be the man those dogs have seen in me.

I had a dream last night, seemed so real

We were walking on a ridge that was so high

Lord I slipped, I fell, I was falling straight into hell

But my good dog dug in, she didn’t let me die.

I landed on my knees, she jumped up on my chest

Licked my face and gave a great big grin

She said, “You can stumble, but you can’t fall,

Not as long as I give my all. You didn’t have to train me to be your best


“I howled at the moon, I growled at strangers,

You were the pal I loved, ever ready for laughter and dangers

I gave you six more years for each one you gave me

And you didn’t have to train me to be your best friend.”

No, and you don’t have to tell me who is my best friend

No, no, it’s my good dog a’mighty

You don’t have to tell me who is my best friend.

Johnny pulled out onto the highway and that pack of dogs followed him, nipping at his tires and barking in a friendly way. The yeller hound was romping along, too, and Johnny thought, “She’s just doing that because she has to be part of the pack to survive. I couldn’t stand it if she were run over.” He did a U-turn. Johnny asked around the flea market, “Are these dogs strays? Do you think they belong to anyone?” Everyone answered that, oh yeah, no doubt, they are all strays, so Johnny went into the convenience store, bought a can of dog food, opened it and then picked up Ella Frybread from Sheep Springs, New Mexico, put her in the van and took her into his life. He knew he was saving her life. He didn’t know she was also saving his.
Ella worked every bit of meat out of that can as Johnny drove along. Soon he shortened her name to Ely – pronounced LLE – he had her “fixed” and wormed and deloused.
Ely leaned into Johnny hard as he drove along. Both vehicles he drove had manual transmissions and it required a great deal of effort to push against her when he needed to shift gears. I don’t mean to push her away; I mean just to get hold of the shifter and make the motion. It was funny at first. Ely would just sit leaning her entire weight against Johnny, looking forward at the road with a calm look on her face, like saying, Yeah, it’s just me and my man heading down the road. Several times in towns Johnny would see someone in a facing car laugh as they went by and he realized that Ely looked like some girl pressing against her boyfriend as they drove down the road.

While on the smallish side, Ely became deceptively heavy. Johnny took to teasing her, calling her a “dog muscle.” One solid mass of muscle (with the softest tongue in the world).
The folks who abandoned her must not have needed a sheep dog, because most sheep-herding dogs on the rez were medium size hound dogs. Ely would have been one faithful hard-working dog, thought Johnny.

Unbeknownst to him, she was working. She was working on Johnny. Making him move more because he loved to let her go off leash in the country and watch her playful running around. Making him laugh like a fool at her antics. Teaching him to love again because Johnny was getting bitter about life and music, politics and people in general. I think the feeling of love is essential and it doesn’t have to be love of God or love of mankind or love of a human even. For some of us as we get older, especially those of us without enough money to keep our old cars going and buy good food, the world is a loveless place. We have one entire political party dedicated to the principle that people, even children (once they are born), don’t deserve health care unless their mommies and daddies make enough money to buy it. A political party that would deny food stamps to the poor even though food stamps are necessary for the health of the families of our soldiers – soldiers and military being now objects of worship – “heros” and “support our troops” – but we don’t support them with a living wage or meet their needs when they return damaged by wars fought for corporate greed.

Then we have another political party too indebted to the real power-base of America to heed to voices of the majority of Americans. Too busy justifying the need for more spies, more private prisons, more bombs, more corporate welfare so our jobs can be outsourced overseas. A corporate media that guides us towards empire; the empire breaking the backs of the poor and middle class who pay for it.

No, it’s pretty true, as Dylan sang, “Everything is broken.” But not real love. That’s not broken. Not the love of a good dog or a good man or a good woman. Johnny loved Ely and Ely gave Johnny six more years of life than he had been destined for. Just that moving and loving and thinking of the needs of another being gave him six more years.

But one day, Johnny just kind of sank to the ground inside his isolated cabin. He was awake and aware, but he couldn’t move much; certainly he couldn’t get up. And there was no one around to help him up. But Ely was there. And as Johnny faded away his last sensations of life on earth were simple yet as full of love and as powerful as God could offer: he heard little whimpering sounds right in his ear and felt his face being licked by the softest tongue in the world.

The post right below this one contains the lyrics of “Good Dog a’Mighty” with chords and links. Thanks for reading this to the end. You must love dogs, too.