Saturday, November 19, 2016

I Would Not Do Heaven's Work Well

From the Monongahela valley to the Mesabi iron range
To the coal mines of Appalachia, the stories always the same.
Seven hundred tons of metal a day, now Sir you tell me the world's changed,
Once I made you rich enough, rich enough to forget my name. 
- "Youngstown" (Bruce Springsteen)

As I often do, I found myself in need of a shot of Bruce Juice on Friday morning as I - deep into the morning's wee small hours - began my trek north to the office.  I dropped into my car's CD player an "audience created recording" identified as "Rising Tour Highlights, Vol. II".  Among the treasures that awaited me was "Youngstown", which has been among my favorite Springsteen songs since he first released it two decades ago on The Ghost of Tom Joad record.  

Being that the CD I was listening to consisted of nothing but tracks recorded live during the tour in support of The Rising record, I knew that there was no chance of Tom Morello being part of the band that performed it, which meant that zero chance existed of his showoff douchebaggery showing up and fucking up an exquisite song. 

Anyway, a while back - I cannot remember where or when (and while this piece was interesting it was not the one of which I speak) - I read a piece on the Los Angeles Times web site about the interplay between Springsteen, Trump, and the good people of Youngstown, Ohio, which I found extremely interesting - and GOOD NEWS! -  I just found for your reading pleasure.  Reading it, and listening to "Youngstown", which I did on multiple occasions during my morning drive yesterday, I could not help but think of yet another Springsteen lyric from yet another Springsteen song...

Now the hardness of this world slowly grinds your dreams away,
Making a fool's joke out of the promises we make.
And what once seemed black and white turns to so many shades of gray,
We lose ourselves in work to do, work to do, and bills to pay.
And it's a ride, ride, ride, and there ain't much cover, 
With no one running by your side, my blood brother. 
- "Blood Brothers" (Bruce Springsteen) 

Much blood, most of it metaphorical but some of it actual, has been spilled in these United States in the week-plus since the Presidential election.  It saddens me to think that the principal lesson the citizenry of this nation extracted from a campaign that plumbed new depths in its viciousness and in its personal attacks very well may be how to extrapolate those attacks outward from the candidates to the men and the women who voted for them.  In post-Presidential election America, social media is "social" in name only.  

Here is to hoping that with time and with distance, most of the reasons (I am a realist, not Pollyanna, which is why I did not write "all of the reasons") for the fear and loathing that presently dominates the day-to-day shall subside.  It would not be the worst idea in the world for the collective to turn our personal knobs all the way off - or at least far enough down where we stop screaming at each other and begin talking to each other.  

You have no obligation to take my suggestion - and I likely will neither know nor care if you do - but if you do, I suspect that in the long run you shall thank me for having made it.  Understand that I am not suggesting that vigilance should no longer be the watchword of the day.  Frankly, whether you are a cheerleader of - or the declared opposition of - the person atop the totem pole of American politics, vigilance should have always been your watchword.  The elected official you adore can fuck you just as fast as the one you despise.  Never ever forget it.  Never - not even for one moment - doubt it. 

I would suggest, however, for your own peace of mind that you spend a few minutes over the course of the next couple of days (or now if you prefer) doing a bit of reading.  On my recommended reading list for you is this piece from The New York Times Magazine, entitled "This Land Is Your Land: Reflections From Donald Trump's America".  Also, the remarks that Tom Hanks gave the other night at the Museum of Modern Art benefit honoring his career, the full transcript of which you can read here (and I encourage you to do so because they really are quite terrific), or the excerpted piece of which you can read here: 

We are going to be all right. America has been in worse places than we are at right now. In my own lifetime, our streets were in chaos, our generations were fighting each other tooth and nail. Every dinner table ended up being as close to a fistfight as human families are allow. We have been in a place where we have looked at our leaders and wondered, “What the hell are they are thinking of?” We’ve had moments with the administrations and politicians and senators and governors in which we have asked ourselves, “Are they lying to us or do they really believe in this?”

That’s all right. We have this magnificent thing that is in place. It’s a magnificent document and it starts off with these phrases that, if you’re smart enough, you’ve memorized in school or just read enough to that you could put it by heart, or you watched those things on ABC where they taught you a little song in order to sing.
And the song goes, “We the people in order to form a more perfect union established to ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare,” and it goes on and on. That document is going to protect us over and over again whether or not our neighbors preserve, protect, and defend it themselves.
We are going to be all right because we constantly get to tell the world who we. We constantly get to define ourselves as Americans. We do have the greatest country in the world. We move at a slow pace. We have the greatest country in the world because we are always moving towards a more perfect union. That journey never ceases, it never stops.
Sometimes, to quote a Bruce Springsteen song, it’s “one step forward, two steps back,” but we still aggregately move forward. We, who are a week into wondering what the hell just happened, will continue to move forward. We have to choose to do so, but we will move forward because if we do not move forward, what is to be said of us?
Presuming you read either or both of the suggested pieces above, your eyes may need a little break.  Feel free to give them one - as long as you do not turn off your brain just because your lids are in lock down - and use instead your ears in concert with your brain to listen to what Jon Stewart said to Charlie Rose of CBS News the other morning: 

Food for thought abounds, ladies and gentlemen.  Be certain to bring your appetite and grab a seat at the table and prepare to chow down.    

And remember, no talking while your mouth is full.  Nobody wants to see that.  Nobody. 


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