Yeah, Let’s Get Nostalgic About “The Vast Wasteland”

This needs to be said more often. News flash, kidz: before “Saturday Night Live” (and with obvious exceptions like a few standout episodes of various series like “That Was the Week That Was”) television was correctly regarded as garbage culture, poop, idiocy, waste of your life, pick-your-dismissal. The sole important feature was that it recycled movie-house animation. I’m serious.

2014 Second-Quarter Lists #3: Runners-Up

This is the just the list below the toppers. Failings: Bit short, bit long, couple tracks more inferior, some flaw in the sound, some flaw in the stars. Still albums I like a great deal.

1. Lilly Allen, Sheezus

2. Suzy Bogguss, Lucky

3. Camper Van Beethoven, El Camino Real

4. The Faint, Doom Abuse

5. Monica Giraldo, Que venga la vida

6. Kasai Allstars, Beware the Fetish (contender for top 10 title of 2014)

7. Tommy Malone, Poor Boy (sure whomps anything I can remember by the Subdudes)

8. Pixel, We Are All Small Pixels

9. Marc Ribot Trio, Live at the Village Vanguard

10. SamRobertsBand, Lo-Fantasy (is it too late to do something about the name?)

11. Noura Mint Seymali, Tzenni

12. Imharhan Timbuktu, Akal Warled

13. Tokyo Police Club, Forcefield

14. Trampled by Turtles, Wild Animals (is it too late to do something, etc. etc.)

Yes, End the “Marihuana” Insanity Now

I would have considered this a bold stance 30 years ago. Instead, it’s merely more evidence that one of the most insidious aspects of my adult life — the mindless, wasteful, destructive war on some drugs — is coming to an end. With pot in particular, I considered criminalization a test of imposing irrational, endless laws on the public. A try-out for using a new style of fear and lies to govern. A part of me shriveled and died as I saw baby boomers consistently stand against legalizing something they did or somebody they knew did and everybody knew was not a threat.

But I’ve pledged myself to be less grouchy-negative about progress in American politics and culture. So while ending the federal laws against pot is not the plain step forward that gay marriage is, it is at least a step back from the abyss.


Ellen Willis Is No Doubt As Sorry as Anyone She Remains So Current

It’s almost cliched to note her “critiques remain depressingly relevant,” and Willis knew the pursuit of all-out happiness was a fleeting and unpopular, if essential, goal of Americans.

Still, she hoped it was on the rise, not enjoying a brief fling in the center of attention. But it’s gratifying to celebrate her today as a prophet, even if a bit in sorrow. She noted what a brilliant strategy it was for anti-abortionists to switch from denouncing uppity women getting to do what they felt they had to do, to defending the unborn, a constituency that could never complain it was being misrepresented. Another visionary observation was that, almost the minute after “the ’60s” faded, the reactionaries began to paint the era as an aberration, never to be repeated and with no lasting lessons to learn.

I remember when I first read this from her, I thought the counterattack was indeed underway, but that it didn’t have a chance. I sure blew that one. The social and cultural movements of those times are now automatically regarded as extreme and naive, an assumption as rigorously unexamined as the myth that everybody suffered during the Great Depression.

Anyway, may Ellen Willis continue to change lives for the better. Or at least remind us we don’t have to settle for dreams we remember.

Vladimir, My Vladimir — Guess I Wasn’t Crazy

Here’s a little explanation of what’s behind those wacky pro-Putin articles in The Nation. I was gaping after I read the earlier piece: “Holy handbasket — can this be as bizarro as I think it is? What is going on?”

I’m under no illusions that journalism was ever anything other than a grubby business. But it’s still a mournful day when a progressive source that’s one of the few to get many issues right, covers itself in crap like this. The charge “they all spew propaganda” is usually a despicable laffer. All it takes is one item like this to give it heft and endurance for years and damned years.


Death Penalty Wimps

C’mon people, we gotta get real about this death penalty stuff.

Let the hate-filled relatives of the victims hack this guy to death with axes if they want. But then his family gets revenge-rights, too. What a lovely situation. (I am looking forward to reading The Feud.) Sick of endless rounds of escalating violence and torture, folks? Maybe you just say you are better than revenge killing. Stop sounding like creeps.