Sunday, October 2, 2011

Libertarian Rock, Hipster Rock, and Iran-Induced Mush

I have decided to give you three or so thoughts a day, each thought relating to a different location, for four days.

NEW JERSEY: Ten years ago my Marxist friend Sander Hicks brought my attention to the New Jersey leftist singer Tris McCall, who wrote a song about dating a libertarian, “The Ballad of Tris McCall and Ashley Black,” to wit:

i met her at a cafe in upper montclair
i was playing corny protest songs
"everyone should share"
but when i got offstage to speak to her
she said that social progress stuff would get me nowhere
her name was ashley black
she said "are you for real"?
with a face like a freshly minted $20 bill
a radical libertarian
a former debutante from darien
she gave me her pitch and then went in for the kill
she talked about free trade
and i stood very, very still
she said she was in touch with tax revolters
sworn to uphold freedom at all cost
we went back to her room
she showed me her portfolio
all those numbers, all those arrows
i was lost
then she took off her blouse
i said "okay, you're the boss"
daughter of liberty
i wish you never threw the book at me
don't remember my econ 101
but i'm starting to understand
getting jerked around by the invisible hand
she took me to a secret meeting of underground entrepreneurs
trading goods in gray areas
on the blind side of the law
she said "these are the real capitalists"
then she gave me another kiss
just to show me what that lip was for
i'd like to say my objectivity let me know the score
but she swept me up with the excitement of the trading floor
buoyed by the rising tide
and the weight of numbers on her side
and logic too impeccable to be ignored
as we made love beneath the flashing lights of the big board
and the boomtown was her playground
when she pushed those hundreds around
she had no time for those down on their luck
she lectured me for weeks on the efficiency of markets
it was like being run over by a truck
at night she'd polish her revolver
point it at me and whisper "duck"
deductible and tax-free
my world's a safer place
but grayer since you left me
did you think it made me happy that i can't supply what you demand?
getting jerked around by the invisible hand
she bought me a poster of milton friedman
and a subscription to the economist
but something deep down told me to resist
though the arguments were efficient
i always wondered what they'd missed
and ashley grey impatient and not a little pissed
she came to me one evening
exploding like a bomb
imploring me to invest in a start-up out in guam
but i answered without patience
since i knew well from the nation
the company used sweatshops to manufacture hardcore cd-roms
i knew this was a test, but instead of saying no
i tried to pretend that i didn't have the dough
and as i threw up my guard
she sweetly offered me her visa card
and i don't know what came over me
or why i had to go and cut her visa into pieces
and throw the pieces in the snow
in the sixties they burned draft cards
but now we should burn credit cards
the meaning is the same
only the plastic's gotten harder
and i stood there
looking at her blank face
tris mc call, capitalist martyr
ashley looked bewildered but she didn't ask me why
and i thought for a moment she was going to cry
but she was staring without hope
as if concluding i was an irredeemable dope
and she spoke in a voice so cold and dry:
"you may call us heartless
you may call us whores
but the world is going our way and certainly not yours"
and then i watched her walk away through the revolving doors
so now i stand before you
in my earnest leftist pose
no money
no girl
singing songs nobody knows
but at least i've got my principles
i suppose

And since this is not the only way in which he is apparently drawn to good things, McCall (now a New Jersey Star-Ledger music columnist) has written an appreciation of, yes, the Fixx.  (My thanks to J.R. Taylor, also a Jersey-dwelling music aficionado, for pointing it out.)

GEORGIA AND INDIA FOR HIPSTERS: A couple other music thoughts: R.E.M. breaking up led me to learn, three decades after I should have, that when
Stipe mumbled “Philomath, they know the lowdown,” he wasn’t just using a Greek term for knowledge-lovers – it’s also a town in Georgia with a reputation for learning. 

And while we’re at it, here’s that Indian rock video that formed the opening scene of Ghost World (without the Ghost World interruptions), which we all know – even comic book fans – was the best part of Ghost World.  It is also striking proof that the hippest year in human history, 1966, took place simultaneously around the world. 

IRAN: A tiny bit more on trad/hipster combos in a couple days, as I ever so briefly mark the anniversary of that C-SPAN2 appearance that I know we’re all tired of hearing about – and lest we forget what that whole panel was originally supposed to be about, let me close by noting a piece by another contributor to the book we were discussing, Proud to Be Right.  Jamie Kirchick is, among other things, a gay neocon who did a great deal to draw attention to the old racist Ron Paul newsletters, actually – and some of our associates would find fault with him for one or more of those reasons – but he has now written about one of those hostage hikers recently released by Iran being a Hugo-Chavez-praising, U.S.-bashing ingrate, though I guess we can't send him back now (and the poor guy might just have Stockholm syndrome, of course – he’s earned some relaxation time regardless). 

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