Taking a Knee to Take a Stand

taking a knee

I had thought of getting back into watching the NFL this season. The Vikings are showing some promise and I was getting cajoled to participate in the NFL pool I was active in for over a decade. But it soured. The Vikings are crippled with injuries (though they did beat the Packers, who are nothing without Rodgers), the league still has far too many serial domestic abusers, concussions remain a problem, and Goodell remains a toothless invertebrate. And then there’s our odious President, a shitstain who seeks to deflect his own failings by lashing out at any available target, like athletes who take a stand on injustices.

Let’s be clear that this is not about disrespecting the flag or the National Anthem. And it sure as hell isn’t about the US armed forces, which Drumpf has managed to drag into this fiasco. Keep in mind, the only reason players came onto the field in the last decade was because the US Army paid the NFL for a “patriotic display”. Before that they were always in the locker room, getting their focus. The protest that Kaepernick started was because in this country we have a HUGE unaddressed problem with black men and women getting killed without provocation by white police officers. Trying to insert the flag or the anthem or the US Army into the argument is just ignoring the point.

Now the NFL owners have had a meeting to decide what to do about this. A segment of the fans have been whipped into a frenzy by the Mandarin Mussolini. The players union is adamantly against the owners blocking any demonstration or dissent. And Goodell is his usual feckless self. The owners decided to do nothing, kicking the issue down the road.

At this point watching football could almost be considered an act of liberal defiance of SCROTUS and his knuckle-dragging slack-jawed minions. But given all the issues swirled around the game like objects in a flushing toilet, I still can’t stomach watching the game. Now sportswriters and conservatives are ranting that the owners have not colluded to ban Kaepernick from the game. OK, then tell me why the goddamn Dolphins picked Jay Cutler as their QB when they could have gotten a QB that played in the Super Bowl a few years ago? That’s pretty damning right there.

The kicker to this Kaepernick collusion is that the one team that could break this is now in an ideal situation to do this. The Green Bay Packers have lost Aaron Rodgers for the season. Without a quality QB they will get their asses handed to them every single Sunday and lost the division. The Pack does not have a single owner; there’s no aging white billionaire paying the bills. The group making the decisions could give two shits about what the rest of the aging white billionaires say. They just MIGHT give Kaepernick a call just to see if he’s in shape to call signals.

This could get interesting. And it might make me want to want football again.

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Caturday – The Long and The Stubby of It

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The weather has changed from the lovely warmth of early fall to those nasty late fall temperatures with their hints of more nasty to come. The cats have made the decision that being house cats for the next several months is the way to go. Above we have the great length of Joffrey snuggling next to the more compact Sansa. And unlike their namesakes, they get along quite well.

Stay warm with a friend. Winter is coming!

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RIP to a True Craftsman

I’m a little late on this one but it was a damn hard one to process. I expected him to be eternal, like Dylan. Then again, smoking a pack or two a day when you’re in your mid-sixties isn’t a pathway to longevity. I guess it was just another way he wasn’t going to back down.

I have probably about three-quarters of Tom’s output. The first half of his career is all on vinyl and the later on CD. I’ve got the superb Live Anthology box and jaw-dropping Playback box, which had three treasure trove discs of unreleased tunes. Live covers, stomping rockers, heartbreaking ballads, and collaboration with the Bangles that’ll stick in your head for days.

Tom never broke any new treads and didn’t really adhere to any either. He kept brewing a stew of Byrds jangle, Stones impudence, rockabilly exuberance, Beatles power pop, and Southern defiance that never deviated too far because it never had to. The art was in the songwriting, the crafting of the perfect lyrics to a hook that would stick in you for days on end. Remember “Free Falling”? Of course you do, the radio stations and MTV played it to death. The opening lines give us a picture of the ultimate American good girl. But this isn’t about the girl. It’s about the boy who broke her heart. Think about that chorus. The bad boy protagonist, who broke the heart of the good girl, says three words over and over. “I’m free/free falling”. Three words that capture a ton of regret. That’s some serious minimalist writing right there.

It’s easy to take a Petty song as your anthem. Hell, I think a third of America views “I Won’t Back Down” as their own. But mine is from the Wildflowers album, a song that I play when my ADHD and other failings get me down. It captures all my futility and then pushes me to get back in the ring. It pushes me to wake up.

Thanks for that one Tom. It will live with me forever.

 

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User Failure

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I had a chapter for the book that was taking me forever. It went one way and then another in February and March. I went back to it this summer and finally got it right. Problem solved.

A few weeks ago my brother sent me an external hard drive. Last year I had a couple of them spin off into the electronic dust heap and the one 2Tb drive I had is…questionable. My brother saw one on sale for a ridiculous price at Costco and had it shipped to me. So I spent days moving files around from my PC, my wife’s PC, the laptop, and the old hard drive. I thought I was pretty careful overwriting files. I thought.

Yesterday, while mulling over writing things, I decided where to wedge that chapter in. And all I could find was the March version. I looked on the laptop, both PCs, and both hard drives. Every time I came up with the March version. So much for that brilliant solution.

My wife says, “well you should be able to write that again”.

Well, no. The process, or at least my process, doesn’t work that way. This was done without an outline or notes, just from head to computer in a torrent. I can remember some of the solution but not all of it. And certainly not the sentences and paragraphs I worked to polish to a brassy shine. I had even done some work on changing the structure of how the “gods” in the novel functioned and that notion is entirely lost.

So, in my spare time, I’ll be working on recreating this and hoping I can find something that works. And I have no one to blame but myself. Call me Professor Tripp.

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Hefner is a Land of Contrasts

playboylogo

I’m a bit behind in my posts so I’ll be doing a few this weekend. Let’s start with Hugh Hefner’s passing first because it’s a pretty problematic RIP.

Pros: Hef changed the culture with his singular vision, advancing the idea that (soft) pornography could be OK as long as it was about the Girl Next Door. He paid artists, cartoonists, writers, and journalists a very good wage while other magazines were far less generous (though it took him a while to publish women authors). He supported Bettie Page in her declining years. He funded a fair amount of First Amendment causes (though that was ultimately self-serving). And oh, the interviews. Those long, complex, and revealing interviews with anyone and everyone important. The Playboy interviews were worth the cost of the magazine alone. So yes, you could read the magazine for the articles.

Cons: He was pretty much an exploitative creep. The stories are starting to slip out. The easiest way out of the mansion for an actress or bunny was to refuse the advances of a male guest. That would get you a lifetime ban. Hef believed in free love but only from one side. That gaggle of girlfriends that he always surrounded himself in the last decades were controlled, manipulated, and gas-lighted to the nth degree. He used to administer ludes to them before having sex with them, calling the pills “thigh-openers”. Take that last one and remember that he was good pals with one Bill Cosby. His support of the right causes was often to his own benefit. In the first issue of Playboy he printed nude photos of Marilyn Monroe without her permission. He arranged to be entombed in the slot above Marilyn Monroe. Even in death she can’t escape him. In promotion of the movie Pretty Baby he printed nudes of a ten-year-old Brooke Shields. Perhaps exploitative creep is too mild of a term.

A bit of a disclosure here, I read the magazine for a couple decades. It was good reading and yes, I did enjoy the photography. But the allure of it faded. I can still look at those old centerfolds and feel a little nostalgia but it’s been tinged with awareness for quite some time. A lot of the women in the magazine came to bad ends after the fame of being a Playmate or at least were cruelly abandoned by Hef when they no longer met his needs or became less pliable. Many were promised that an appearance in the magazine would lead to acting roles and riches untold. You want to tell me how often that happened?

So farewell Hef. Your life was one step forward and definitely two steps back.

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Objects May Be Larger Than They Appear

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Add another item to the list of wildlife that has returned to North Dakota. Yup, the Wapiti have returned.

I’m now driving bus MWF mornings so we can take some miles off another driver’s route. He was booking over 80 miles a trip which is just ridiculous and which results in some kids being on a bus for too damn long. So I pick up eight kids that live near the Missouri river, just west of Williston. While I was riding along with that driver and learning the route he pointed to a field and said, “I saw four elk strutting across that field last week.”

What?

Elk haven’t been around here since Theodore Roosevelt was president. There are some in our national park but I always thought they were contained, like the bison. Either some got out or they’ve migrated out from Montana and Wyoming. I didn’t get a clear answer from the Internet.

I’m already paranoid about hitting a deer with the bus. I’m driving at the time of day when the damn dumb things are on the move. And yeah, there’s moose to worry about as well but they’re a little too crafty to be in the way on a county road or highway. A bull elk weighs seven hundred pounds and has a massive rack of antlers. That’s not something I want coming through the windshield.

A couple kids confirmed seeing elk as well. Now my wife’s cousin posted a video on social media of three of them crossing a field near her place. That down by Twin Buttes, well on the other side of the river. So they’ve established a pretty wide range. I wonder when I’ll see them on the farm.

This morning on the bus I pulled into a hunting lodge complex. It was just minutes after sunrise and we could kind of see. Back by the garages pasture land began and the fence was both tall and formidable. About fifty dark animals were scattered beyond it, already grazing. One of the little kids shouted “cows” and his older brother corrected him. I could see it too. They were bison.

Please don’t let them escape their pasture. Please.

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The Times They Are A Changin’

Jimmy Page Robert Plant - Rolling Stone

I still have this copy of Rolling Stone. I still have several issues of Rolling Stone, all in a neat pile downstairs. I’ve winnowed and pruned this pile over the years and now it’s barely a foot tall. What remains will likely be thrown out by whoever cleans this house out once I’m gone because these are the issues that mattered. And yes, I do go through them now and then.

It was announced yesterday that Rolling Stone magazine was up for sale. Jann Wenner has been publishing the magazine since 1967, when the counter-culture revolution was exploding and change was in the air. Given my age, RS has been a constant for a good part of my life. I’ve often been at odds with it but I kept reading into the 90s. Wenner should have gotten out then, when magazines were still worth something. But no one saw what the digital revolution would do to traditional media and like newspapers, magazines got blind-sided. Now they’ll be lucky to get a tenth of what they would have 20 years ago.

My relationship with Rolling Stone has been somewhat of a love/hate affair. They exposed me to writers like Ralph Gleason, Tom Wolfe, and of course Hunter S. Thompson. They were exceedingly tone deaf in their reviews in the 70s as they clung to 60s aesthetics to review 70s music. The wave of reviewers that came in later managed to correct it but the magazine was still prone to giving five star reviews to mediocre works from aging 60s heroes (a true return to form!). And their top 100/500 lists were always an abomination. I remember the weekend of my brother’s wedding when the debate among the groomsmen was how atrocious the list of the top 100 albums from 1967-1987 was. Let’s just say that none of us were happy with the choices made. Those lists have only gotten worse over time. But the magazine also carried Wenner’s hippie heart on its sleeve when it came to politics and social upheaval, casting a stern eye on Washington shenanigans that marginalized minorities and attempted to scale back social advances. Wenner had a soapbox and he used it damn well.

So who knows what’s going to happen. They might find a buyer who can plunder the archives and keep building on the magazine’s strong digital presence. Or it might whither and blow away, like other magazines have doing in the last decade. The future for magazines isn’t bright. As one of Rolling Stone’s favorite artists would say, you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

 

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