Thursday, September 02, 2010

A Good Ole Brawl

Baseball would be much more interesting with more fights.

Not sure why Volstead squared off with his fists down. Got himself clocked in the ear for that one.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Gunned Down Cold on a Raw Deeeeaalll

I've been listening to John Steinbeck's The Pearl on my commute, but yesterday I switched it back over to the CD player. Slayer's Seasons of the Abyss has been sitting in there since last week and it hit on Expendable Youth. I never thought this song was so great, but I found a new appreciation for it.

The first minute of it is awesome. It starts off kind of slow, a little palm-muted riff and some very basic, almost tribal drums. But then Dave Lombardo kicks it off with a boom-boom-peeesh and he's off on a gallop. The riff is exactly the same, but it sounds different. Check it out.
That's some good drumming.

And check the lyrics.
Injured soul on the hard ground
Head blown off face down
Lying in a pool of blood
An accidental death homicide
That's ridiculous.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It's All Over, Baby

The war is over.


If we were to get down to the nitty-gritty, there's probably a lot that me and David Frum would disagree on. But when it comes to the sorry state of the American right, we can at least agree than Glenn Beck is a charlatan. (And if you're a Glenn Beck fan, you're a sucker. Sorry...I know some Glenn Beck fans. They're good people. But they're suckers.)

Here's Frum pointing out the silliness of Beck's rally this weekend:
Here’s an actual problem that needs fixing:

The U.S. is mired in the most severe recession since World War II.

Here’s a non-problem that does not need fixing:

Today’s Americans seem approximately as honorable and God-fearing as prior generations.
No shit.

To me, Glenn Beck personifies the concept of a guy "selling you shit you don't need," to quote Fight Club.

His newest venture? The Blaze, a Huffington Post for the Tea Party set.

See, you thought that rally was a bunch of patriots getting together to reaffirm their values and express their views. Little did you know it was just a launch party for Glenn Beck's next money-making venture.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Cortez the Killer

You can almost be forgiven for thinking that the history of the New World started when the Europeans finally figured out there was another two continents sitting across the Atlantic. That's how it's taught. Chapter 1 mentions Pre-Columbian America but by Chapter 2, out of ignorance or cultural spite, we're back to talking about European exploration. Two thousand years of human history on this continent is relegated to a footnote.

Even the vikings, blown off course and lost, get a mention for visiting (not settling, just visiting) North America, but do you think we can spend any amount of time on, say, the Wari and Tiwanku of Peru? Why talk about them when we can talk about the summer Lief Ericson stopped off in New Foundland?

Unfortunately, as annoying as I find ignoring Pre-Columbian America, I find it even more annoying when you talk about it and get it wrong. Usually this comes from giving the native cultures properties that they did not possess. They were "peaceful," or "They knew no greed, no class, no sin."

A single glance at Native American history will show you that war was a prominent feature in their culture as it is in Western culture. Stratified by class? The great pyramids of Meso-America were built by slaves for kings. That wouldn't happen in an Edenic classless paradise.

You can point to their achievements in art, architecture, astronomy, civic planning, et cetera, but you must also acknowledge the reality that they had faults too. {Cough} Human sacrifice. {Cough}

So when you listen to a song like Neil Young's Cortez the Killer and he sings stuff like this:
They offered life in sacrifice,
So that others could go on
Hate was just a legend,
And war was never known
The people worked together,
And they lifted many stones
They carried them to the flatlands,
But they died along the way
And they built up with their bare hands,
What we still can't do today
You know he's just yanking your chain.

They offered life in sacrifice because their strange religion demanded it, and besides, "offer" is the wrong word. "Took" would be a better one. Hate was just a legend? C'mon. If it was just a legend why did Mayan city-states Tikal and Calakmul war against each other for centuries? Why did the Tlaxcalans, who hated the Aztec Triple-Alliance, sign up so eagerly for Cortes's conquest? "War was never known?"

War was a common feature. The life offered taken in sacrifice? Most of them war captives, killed not so others can go on, but as a kind of "This is what you get for messing with me" message to any who bothered to come to the pyramid that day.

And the idealistic notion that "the people worked together" to build the pyramid? If you want to call slave labor "the people working together," sure. Indeed, if you read the story about Cortes and the conquest of Mexico, which is the story Neil Young is trying to tell here, you'll see how often and how easily masses of people are just given to the Spanish by their native allies. "You're going to fight the Aztecs? I hate those guys! Yeah, of course I'll help. Here's twenty women to make you breakfast burritos."

That's the true version. It may not serve the desired metaphoric ends Neil Young envisions in his song, but that's how it was.