Tag Archives: politics

50 Years Ago: A Letter to My Teenage Son

Audio: Victor Lundberg – “An Open Letter to My Teenage Son”

Victor Lundberg - AN OPEN LETTER TO MY TEENAGE SON

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the 50th anniversary of the first issue of Rolling Stone magazine, dated November 9, 1967. The interviews and reviews of early Stone are rightly celebrated, but I like flipping through for the ads and weird news items.

The second issue came out two weeks later and featured Tina Turner on the cover. It was 20 pages long, with 3 full-page ads, and featured an interview with Donovan and a big Jon Landau piece on Aretha Franklin. The thing that caught my eye, however, was an article on page 8 by Bob O’Lear titled, “USA’s Hottest New 45 RPM: Letter to a Teenage Son.”

The hottest record in the country — not the Monkees, not “Incense and Peppermint,” not the “San Francisco Sound” nor even the Beatles — is a non-musical offering by two middle-aged advertising executives from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The song, if you haven’t heard it, is a slice of the reactionary doublespeak for which my hometown of Grand Rapids is notorious (Amway, Betsy Devos, et al). “Some of my generation judges people by their race, their belief, or the color of their skin and this is no more right than saying all teenagers are drunken dope addicts or glue sniffers.” Of course, by the end, the narrator threatens to disown his son if he refuses to fight in the Vietnam war. “Your mother will love you no matter what you do because she is a woman.”

Fifty years later it’s kind of hilarious, but still pretty sad because it’s based on an actual letter the dude wrote to his 17-year-old son. This was the state of the world in 1967. Imagine having to make that choice as a teenager. “If you decide to burn your draft card, then burn your birth certificate at the same time.”

O’Lear plays it straight. No moralizing, barely any condescension, just straight reporting. He interviews the songwriters, the record label, and a radio program director, and he quotes a big chunk of the narration. This is O’Lear’s only byline in the Stone.

A little googling uncovered a “promotion man” named Bob O’Lear who worked for labels affiliated with Liberty Records in 1967. So was this article essentially a press release? Native advertising? Had Jann Wenner already sold out by the second issue? Or was he just willing to publish whatever content he could get?

“An Open Letter to My Teenage Son” spent six weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at #10.

Continue reading 50 Years Ago: A Letter to My Teenage Son

New Pussy Riot video: Police State

Video: Pussy Riot – “Police State”

Pussy Riot - Police State

From the Nice Life Winter ’18 playlist, out December 8 on Nice Life.

The always subtle Pussy Riot is back with another video denouncing the police state. It’s a cute pop song with a catchy chorus and sarcastic lyrics. Chloe Sevigny plays a law-enforcement officer in the video and forces children to watch videos of Trump and Putin while smashing their toys with her riot control baton.

No problems in paradise, we locked them up
We all have to sacrifice, it won’t be long
Shut the borders, perfect order, sons and daughters
Drink the Kool Aid, it’s the new way, do what I say

In case you miss the point, Pussy Riot released a big statement (below).

Pussy Riot: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Pussy Riot video: Police State

Is Past Prologue?

For the past several years rock and roll has become profoundly apolitical, particularly vis-à-vis the 1960s when, largely because the war in Vietnam, there was considerable engagement of performers.

There were two signal albums of that period, one that came out in 1969 and the other in 1970, and both have Paul Kantner in common.

In 1970, Kantner formed Jefferson Starship. And at this point I can imagine a sufficient number of eyerolls among all of you reading this such that the centrifugal force could spin an LP.

But before there was “Find Your Way Back” and “Jane” and “Count on Me” and Grace Slick-as-Kim Cattrall in the Mannequin “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,”* there was the original Jefferson Starship, which was arguably what came to be known as a “supergroup.”

Joining Kantner and Slick there were Jefferson Airplane bassist Jack Cassady, plus Jerry Garcia, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, David Crosby, Graham Nash, and David Freiberg.

They came together and created Blows Against the Empire. The Empire in question was pre-Darth Vader. While the album does have a science fiction theme, the whole idea behind it was that the American Empire was something that needed to be escaped from.

But just before that album, Jefferson Airplane released Volunteers, an album that, in effect, was calling out for volunteers not that would join the military and go to Southeast Asia (it is hard to conceive of the fact today that your best friend or your uncle or your boss or your father or yourself could get drafted and sent thousands of miles away to a jungle hell where death was not an unusual consequence), but to get out in the streets. The marches that occurred in Washington and around the world on January 21 were far more common back then. Volunteers were needed frequently to protest against the war.

Continue reading Is Past Prologue?

What Do They Know?

One of the things that often happens when a performer—be it an actor or a musician—makes a political point is that there is a degree of dismissiveness among some—even among that person’s fans—, a reaction that has it, in effect, “Oh, she’s just an actress, what does she know?” (Or, as our President put it about Meryl Streep, “one of the most-overrated actresses.”)

We can allow these people to move us in their performances, but somehow that has nothing to do with their intelligence or capability or thoughtfulness. They are “just” playing or singing or acting. What do they know?

Of course, when it comes to the campaigning part of politics, it is all good to have the actors and musicians to come on stage with the candidates to lend support, be they Gary Busey or George Clooney, Wayne Newton or Bruce Springsteen. (Yes, I’ve made loaded choices of supporters of the candidates in the last presidential, but they are no less true.)

When Madonna says “Yes, I have thought an awful lot of blowing up the White House, but I know that this won’t change anything,” you’d think that the 58-year-old performer was going to be in charge of life-altering policies for literally hundreds of millions of people; when a presidential candidate says in a speech of his opponent, “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don’t know,” it gets pretty much treated as though, “Oh, it’s just him being him.”

Actors or musicians, the thinking seems to be, really don’t know more than their crafts. Lawyers and real estate developers—they know lots about everything.

Don’t they?

Continue reading What Do They Know?

Hillary Clinton is Not the Lesser of Two Evils: She is GOOD

I consider myself a connoisseur of reality television. I realize that many smart people dismiss the genre in favor of make-believe stories, and I get it. There is a lot of really terrible reality tv. Of course, there is also a lot terrible scripted tv. Sturgeon’s revelation, yo. At its best, reality tv features all the hallmarks of any good narrative: interesting character development, unexpected plot twists, a reflection of a societal value.

The Apprentice was never great television. But it was entertaining for a while. I watched most of the first twelve seasons of The Apprentice/Celebrity Apprentice. I enjoyed the premise of contestants working together on teams to complete a mission each week with one person from the losing team being eliminated. Celebrity Apprentice often exposed a different side of famous people than what is typically showcased in official publicity campaigns. You could find out who was actually smart (Joan Rivers, Arsenio Hall, Bret Michaels), and who was as dumb as you’d thought they would be (Gene Simmons, Rod Blagojevich).

The host, Donald Trump, fell into the latter class. On the show, he came across as a self-important buffoon. In the “boardroom” at the end of each episode where Trump decides who gets fired, he would ask the contestants and his advisors for their opinions on who should be “fired” and why. Revealing the attention span of a toddler, Trump would frequently cut short these discussions and make a brash decision based on something stupid that had nothing directly to do with the challenge. One week somebody would get fired for not defending themselves strongly enough in the boardroom; the next week another person would get fired for being too argumentative and abrasive. It was arbitrary. After the contestants left the boardroom, Trump inevitably would say to his advisors, “That was the right decision, don’t you agree?”

It was hilarious. His insecurity was so obvious. He’s so blatantly the “tough guy” with no real backbone. He’s Francis from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. This was all completely clear when you watched the show. And it was funny.

But it’s not funny anymore.

Because now instead of his ill-informed decisions sending Khloé Kardashian packing her bags, his decisions could determine who is sitting on the Supreme Court, and whether or not the United States will honor its treaties with NATO.

Even before he called Mexicans rapists, incited political violence, encouraged racism and religious discrimination, he proved himself unfit for the presidency by just being such a clown.

Continue reading Hillary Clinton is Not the Lesser of Two Evils: She is GOOD

Three Hundred Things People Are Saying About #TrumpDoc

trumpdoc

A lot of people are saying things about this photo. Not us, but a lot of people. Some very smart people; the best people.

I updated my Facebook picture with his smirking mug and added a couple comments. That got people talking…a lot of them.

Here are 300+ things people are saying about #TrumpDoc (of the 570, and counting).

  1. Can’t stop telling you about the time he met Donald Fagan at a boat show.
  2. Ends every question during a physical with, “If you know what I mean…”
  3. Signs your high school physical form on sight, asks if your mom’s dating.
  4. Asks if you’ve ever ridden in a convertible, casually dangles Sebring keys.
  5. Won’t stop asking if you’ve signed up for his band’s mailing list.
  6. Has a secret stash of Zima on his boat, Breakin’ Wind.
  7. Says Michael McDonald is “the voice of my generation!”
  8. Thinks AOL is the Internet. Concurrently somehow still has a NetZero account.
  9. Invites you over to see his margarita glass signed by Jimmy Buffett after he “saved his f*ckin’ life from a ‘gator the size of a goddamn Buick” in a parking lot in the Keys
  10. His favorite coffee mug is a badly stained, circa 1985 plastic one with a barely legible racist joke on it. It leaks, so he wraps it in a bandanna. Continue reading Three Hundred Things People Are Saying About #TrumpDoc

Winaloto – A Song and Video for Trump’s America

It happens in every election cycle: Some candidate tries to co-opt a popular song to punctuate a message in a rally or other live event, only to raise the ire of the artists who created the song. It usually happens to Republicans, because…well…they suck. And really, who can they turn to? Ted Nugent?

This week, Republican presidential nominee and human bag of spoiled Orange Julius sludge, Donald Trump took heat from the Rolling Stones, Queen and George Harrison’s estate for playing their music during live events. It seems nobody wants to be associated with the Donald though the Internet is having a field day with suggestions.

And I have my own: TOMMY CASH – WINALOTO

Continue reading Winaloto – A Song and Video for Trump’s America

Don’t be a sucker. Register to vote.

This is a reminder that it’s important to register to vote if you haven’t already. It’s not hard to do, and it really does matter. Even if you live in a very “safe” state, the national popular vote determines how big of a mandate the winner has received. You can’t vote if you’re not registered, so please register to vote.

If you’re paying any attention at all, you might have noticed that we are approaching some very dark times in this country. Things are getting more and more weird and ugly and mean. Let’s all do what we can to make it better. Elections matter. Don’t fuck this one up, America.

Main image by Thomas W. Benton. And follow @poljunk on twitter.

The Ballad Of October 16th is still relevant and controversial

I’ve been watching the Ken Burns documentary The Roosevelts: An Intimate History and I’m astonished by how much I didn’t know about that era of American history. One example: a Gallup Poll from early 1939 revealed that 84-85% of American protestants and Catholics “opposed offering sanctuary to European refugees. So did more than one-quarter of American Jews.” This was after the well-reportedNight of Broken Glass” in November of 1938 when Hitler’s goons ransacked Jewish homes, shops, and synagogues through Germany and Austria, killing dozens of Jews and imprisoning thousands more.

I knew that Americans had become isolationist in the wake of World War I, but I had assumed that the so-called Greatest Generation had risen to the occasion when faced with the atrocities of the Nazis. Not so much. It’s shocking to see photos of young American protesters marching with “Make peace with Hitler” signs. FDR reinstated conscription and on October 16, 1940, American men had to register for the draft, and most Americans were not happy about it. Before I watched this episode I had assumed it was just lefty radicals like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger who opposed the war. Their band the Almanac Singers recorded one of my favorite protest songs, “Ballad Of October 16th.”

The Almanac Singers - Ballad Of October 16th

Oh, Franklin Roosevelt told the people how he felt
We damn near believed what he said
He said, “I hate war and so does Eleanor
But we won’t be safe ’til everybody’s dead.”

Continue reading The Ballad Of October 16th is still relevant and controversial

Lift Every Voice And Sing: Election 2012

We get it: You’re sick of it. You’re sick of all of the ads and the robocalls and people on Facebook telling you to vote. Yep, it’s annoying.

Here’s what’s more annoying: Generations of people have fought for your right to vote. They have died for it. Their kids did not get to see them step off the plane and into welcoming arms. Their spouses did not get to finally have a morning where the doorbell ringing sent them into a panic. Their parents didn’t get to see them grow into the better versions of themselves. They died and they are still dying.

The least you can do is show your thanks by exercising your right to be heard.

And because we at GLONO have never, ever pretended to be objective: Vote Democratic. We know you, we know you have good taste and a good head on your shoulders. Don’t tell us you’ve been hoodwinked by a “severe conservative” who can now magically bring the parties together for “real change on Day One.” We don’t believe it.

  • We KNOW you love your moms and sisters and wives and daughters and want as much opportunity for them as your dads and brothers and husbands and sons enjoy.
  • We know you know gay people and know they are just like you.
  • We know you think it’s crazy that people can buy elections (prove them wrong).
  • We know you don’t really believe people who are sick should also be bankrupt.
  • We know you don’t think teachers and firemen are the source of our sluggish economic recovery.
  • We know that you don’t expect a president—any president—to solve all your problems but can recognize the difference between competent government and an ideology that doesn’t think such a thing is possible.
  • We know you expect more but also know when you’re being sold a bill of goods.

We’ll be live-tweeting later. Get your political fix from the team by following POLJUNK: The National Affairs Desk of Glorious Noise on Twitter: @poljunk

God Bless America.