Archive for August, 2013

I have made this observation before…

August 8, 2013

…but it’s worth making again — evil does not always come in armbands and jackboots. Every so often it comes in a suit and tie, making the rounds on the cable talk shows:

While on the set of MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, Glaze (Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns — ed.) argued that unless an assailant is armed with a firearm, the victim absolutely has no right to preserve their life by using one of their own.

“Very often somebody will come at you. They might want to have a fistfight. They might come at you with an axe handle,” Glaze started.

“Would you consider the guy with the axe handle armed or not?” Matthews asked.

“Not with a gun,” said Glaze.

“I would consider him armed,” Matthews chuckled.

“I have a word for him. I grew up in Colorado where my dad was a gun dealer, and a guy who shoots somebody who has anything other than a gun when they could have done something else like talk or fight with their fists…” Glaze began to explain.

Now, I could get all apoplectic and go on a tear and talk about how wrong this is. Now, granted, it is wrong. (And what I would have said would have been along these lines, anyway.) But just watch this video, if you will. (The pertinent part starts at about 1:18).

What Mark Glaze is saying is that the victim in that video should simply have tried to talk to her assailant, to reason with him, or to run away. It should be pointed out that she was attacked in her own home. And really, does it look to you as if Shawn Custis was anywhere near amenable to having a friendly chat over iced tea?

Granted, of course, his victim didn’t avail herself of the option of lethal force. But if Mark Glaze and his accomplices had their way she would be completely denied that option. If that’s not evil, then what is?

So, I was totally gonna blog about this…

August 7, 2013

…but Sabra beat me to it. So just go read what she wrote.

(Nashvillians certainly do get provincial and defensive, don’t they?)

I dug both the Triggerman’s takes on it too, although I might beg to differ with this:

I don’t think anyone was under the impression that Florida Georgia Line cared about anything uttered by anyone over the age of 35 that wasn’t directly responsible for their success, but to see the duo say it themselves and disrespect a man who among other accomplishments held is own in a supergroup that included Bob Dylan and George Harrison, and has sold an estimated 60 million albums, is still quite shocking.

Shocking? Hardly. Anyone who’s paid any attention to anything those two half-witted jagoffs have said ought to know that they don’t have any respect for country music in general, let alone the people who have molded the genre up to now.

I remember in one of the comments to the story somewhere, a deejay at a new country station said “Just once, I’d like to see an old-timer who didn’t complain,” or something to that effect. Well fuck you, dude, you’re part of the problem, who gives a damn what you think? Sabra’s response:

“Yeah. Tom Petty is an old-timer. Just someone whose day has passed. NOT AN ICON AT ALL. Not one of the most influential people in rock music in the last three decades or so.”

Pretty much. And then there was this comment:

“every person over 35 has something negative to say (including Mr. Petty)”

Which is funny. I turned 35 late last year. But I’ve been saying the same thing Petty and his ilk have been saying for at least the last decade, if not longer than that.

So was I an old fart and jackass at 24? Maybe I was. But I am far from the only one.

Oh, how cute…

August 6, 2013

…a virtual unknown pulls a political stunt and all of a sudden, we have this:

 Wendy Davis for Texas governor in 2014?

And all I have to say is, PLEASE Democrats, make this happen. Run Wendy Davis for governor, I beg of you. Davis was by and large a nobody before her little stunt, and even after the media made sure everyone in Texas and everywhere else knew her name, Rick Perry was still beating her in the polls before he decided he wasn’t going to run for reelection. And to hear some people tell it, Rick Perry is one of the least popular Republicans in the country, never mind the state of Texas. If the Dems really are dumb enough to run Wendy Davis, the Republican candidate is going to win so handily it’s going to make the 2010 gubernatorial election look like the 2000 presidential election in comparison. Really…

“A lot of people are asking me that question lately as you can imagine,” Davis said in response to an audience question regarding her gubernatorial ambitions at a National Press Club luncheon Monday.

I wonder if the name Pauline Kael means anything to her.

Oh, look! More Texas CPS FAIL!

August 5, 2013

This time, in Rockdale, in Milam County just northeast of Austin.

To make a long story short: Mom & dad had their kid taken away and put in foster care for allegedly smoking the demon weed after the little one went to sleep. They were allowed periodic visits. Last Monday, dad got called to a Temple hospital, where they took the kid after she suffered some type of then-unknown injury. On Wednesday night, little 2-year-old Alexandria Hill was taken off life support.

What happened, you say? Well

Doctors say Alex had hemorrhaging in her brain and eyes. An autopsy shows she had blunt force trauma to the head.

Harris says Thursday morning, Small finally told them the truth.

“She had evidently been frustrated with the child all day long. She had… the child… had evidently gotten up before the Small’s did and she had went and got into some food and some water,” said Harris. “That is what Mrs. Small was initially upset with her about…. had made her stand in a dark room, according to our reports, for at least three-to-four hours, wouldn’t let her sit or anything.”

Then around 7:00 that night, the young child, so full of life, was knocked unconscious.

“She actually admitted that she had slung the child down on the floor,” said Harris.

I’ve heard it said that the curse of every parent is that they see the faces of their own kids in the stories of all the abused, terminally ill, and the like. Between this and the story of the 2-year-old best man, I find that all too true. At any rate…

There are people here who need to be made into a meat windchime (credit to Tamara for the term) for this. And it is long past time for Texas Child Protective Services to be burned to the ground and the earth salted where it stands. But the people of Texas generally labor under the delusion that CPS knows all, that they have the best interests of the children at heart, and that their word and recommendations are the gospel. So, somewhere in Texas, some poor mother didn’t sweep her floor today, and so more innocent Texas children are going to die.

Still trying to sort this out.

August 4, 2013

So I read this from My Kind of Country and this from Saving Country Music, and frankly, I am still trying to get my thoughts sorted out about it.

To make a long story short, a piece-of-shit song from two jagoffs who don’t really give a shit about country music beyond the extent it fills their wallets breaks the record for the longest stint at No. 1 on Billboard’s country singles chart. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth ensued in the above-linked posts, and, well…ten years ago I might have said, “This is much ado about nothing. Charts are worthless. I listen to a bunch of folks who will never top these charts yet they still manage to make a living doing what they do. Billboard, Radio & Records, et al. can go screw.” But another point the Triggerman made did make me stop and think…

So what does all this mean? It means that the elements of country music that used to keep it in check with its roots increasingly don’t care any more. Like refugees, they’re retreating to their little independent scenes and micro-scenes, and forming an elitist “we have ours, screw the masses” bent. But that’s the same flawed logic of saying, “I have a job, who cares if my neighbor does?” Eventually, the creatively-bankrupt nature of mainstream music is destined to creep into your world.

I can see what he’s getting at, but at the same time you could probably say the micro-scenes are to a large extent walled off from mainstream music and all its insidious proclivities. After all, for example, you don’t see Aaron Watson remixing his songs for pop radio or doing duets with Nelly. I think that to the extent that the “creatively-bankrupt nature of mainstream music” makes it into the smaller scenes, it’s only because the artists themselves get burned out or tap out their muses. And nobody’s making mainstream America listen to shit music against their will. All that obscure underground stuff is just as available to them as it is to us. They just have to seek it out.

But then there was this:

Look, we can tell ourselves this song isn’t country all we want, and tell ourselves none of this matters. But the simple fact is whenever a schoolkid goes to Billboard or Wikipedia or somewhere else to research what the biggest songs in the history of country music were, Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” is going to be right there at the very top, above a slew of Hall of Famers.

So it will, which raises the question: Is that more of a commentary on country music itself, or more of a commentary on the mainstream country audience? At this point I could say that it’s probably a commentary on the country music institution itself — at least as it is represented by mainstream country — as it’s the singers and labels themselves who are marketing all that lowest-common-denominator bullshit as country to what is arguably the lowest-common-denominator demographic. (A history of country music worthy of the name would also include the observations of all of us who think these people hijacked the genre to further their own ends.) But on the other hand, if the sales of acts like Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Brantley Gilbert, and FGL are any indication, you could say that demographic is pretty big, which is not a good reflection on what’s considered the mainstream country audience anymore.

Of course I’m sure there are those who are reading this and thinking, “Who are you to define what’s country and what isn’t? And how dare you look down your nose at the people who listen to new country.”

All I can say is that I know country when I hear it. And drawing a line through the evolution of mainstream country by way of Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Ricky Skaggs, George Strait, and Alan Jackson, I defy anyone to tell me that any of these new singers really fall anywhere near that line, taking into account both their sound and subject matter.

(As far as the people who listen to it — well, frankly, if there’s any truth to the comments contained here and here, if the mentality on display is anywhere in the ballpark of the fans in general, well, they deserve every bit of opprobrium that comes their way. )

Anyway, as I said before, mainstream country hasn’t been redefined so much as hijacked. And in the end, ironically enough, I’m really okay with that, as much as I think it sucks.

Why? Because once upon a time country was not the big-selling genre it is today. In fact, country didn’t even have its first million-selling album until Wanted! The Outlaws, in 1976 — some 50 years after the genre was created. And just as the music itself changed, so too have the channels through which it is heard.  Terrestrial radio’s not the only game in town anymore. Between satellite radio, Spotify, independent Internet-based radio stations, and the like, country music — the real thing — is going to be just fine. It’s not going to be as visible as it once was, but I don’t see how that is necessarily a bad thing.

Besides, no one knows how any of this is going to play out in the long run anyway. For all anyone knows, we could very well be in store for another post-Urban Cowboy–type collapse or New Traditionalist renaissance any day now.

Speaking of that, I was just now reminded of this piece, which ran in the New York Times almost 30 years ago…

The young audience that should be swelling the ranks of country music fans is looking elsewhere. Most rural and small-town youngsters now grow up listening to rock-and-roll. Most radio stations now play the same rock records, in rural areas as well as towns and cities. And the performers with country roots whose record sales remain healthy are mostly rockers with a country tinge – Hank Williams Jr. and the four-man band Alabama, for example. These artists appeal to an audience that is growing larger and getting younger.

Substitute Jason Aldean and Eric Church for Hank Jr.  and Alabama, and that could have been written yesterday.

I could be all wrong. The whole thing could be burning down right in front of us. But all that music that’s been made up to now? That’s still there and it’ll always be. And it can’t ever be taken away from us. Such brings me to something I’ve talked about before in this space: how the music has been passed down through the years. You read this blog back to the beginning and you’ll see that I really haven’t talked about much new music. It’s been mostly older music, from the ’60s on up through probably the late ’80s and early ’90s. As I’ve said before, I’m not the only one who listens to that stuff. And I guarantee you Sabra and I are not the only ones who are going to be passing that stuff down to our kids. Who’s to say the kids won’t come back around to that music and newer music similar to it?

tl/dr: Is all lost? It certainly looks that way. But I wouldn’t give up hope just yet.

Oh, it’s not just that.

August 3, 2013

NRO’s Charles C.W. Cooke:

Perhaps the most boring thing that gun-controllers throw at advocates of the right to bear arms is the assertion, almost guaranteed to rear its doltish head in any conversation about the Second Amendment, that it is easier in the United States to own and operate a gun than it is to own and operate a car.

It’s more than just boring — it’s a filthy stinking lie. Not only do you not have to undergo a background check merely to own a car, but you also don’t have the threat of having your car confiscated if you do something bad with it, such as kill a van load of kids because you chose to drive blasted out of your gourd on absinthe and Jagermeister.

“Oh, but you can have your license revoked!”

Well, yeah, but how many drunk drivers  — habitual or otherwise — does that stop? That’s not a trivial, inconsequential question, considering about 10,000 people die every year in accidents involving drunk drivers. That’s about the same number of people who are murdered with guns each year.

But there’s no kind of controversy about that. No demonstrations, no vigils, no candles. I am left to believe the anti-gunners deem the lives of those killed by drunks less important.

Wow, I can hardly believe I am seeing this.

August 2, 2013

…or, When you’ve lost the Houston Chronicle

Obama’s repeated mention of a focus on “phony scandals” in the nation’s capital as a roadblock to progress on the economy has been greeted with puzzlement by many and deep anger by some.

What, exactly, does President Obama mean by “phony scandals”? That is one of those loaded remarks that the nation’s chief executive cannot leave hanging out there without further explanation.

He means all of them, of course. Every single one the Chronicle mentioned, and even a few they didn’t — Solyndra and Fast and Furious, to name just a couple. And you know what the underlying attitude is here: “Scandals? What scandals? Come on. You have to break some eggs to make an omelet.” The man simply will not be held accountable to anyone — not the Supreme Court, not Congress, not the media, and certainly not the American people.

One more reason we need guns…

August 1, 2013

…to protect ourselves from people like this:

A former financial analyst with a history of disruptive behavior was executed Wednesday for the road-rage shooting deaths of two truckers in the Dallas area 15 years ago….

Evidence showed he got into trouble as a juvenile, had drug possession and selling issues and wound up in state custody. He also had robbery and drug convictions.

“…a history of disruptive behavior…wound up in state custody…robbery and drug convictions.”

You know what those convictions made him, right? A prohibited person. Yet he still managed to get a 9mm pistol  and almost 300 rounds of ammunition in spite of that. Why, it’s almost as if gun control doesn’t work. Color me shocked.

Why was Douglas Feldman ever let out of jail?