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The End of the World

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

The End of the World

Some big news came out of Georgia yesterday.  And I know it's going to be controversial.  No, I'm not talking about Troy Davis.  REM broke up.  I have always maintained that REM is the most important rock 'n' roll band after the Beatles. Without the Beatles, you have no Stones, no Who, no Doors (which would actually be a good thing), but without REM, you have no Nirvana, No Pearl Jam (again, a good thing), none of the alternative music that so saturates the airwaves these days that it has to now be called mainstream.  If I could draw a rock family tree I'd show how every band descends from virtually two parents, the Beatles and REM.  (I drew this tree once when I was very high and it made a lot of sense but I lost the picture.)

You have to remember when REM came around, we were mired in a dark, awful era in rock 'n' roll (not all that different than when Nirvana burst on the scene a decade later, but here the egg comes first).  At the time it was all Rod Stewart "Tonight's the Night" and adult contemporary; and the "Escape (Pina Colada Song)" is cool now, because it's camp, but there was a time when it wasn't camp.  That shit was serious.

There are holes in this theory, I know, and there are about a million bands you can name, mostly punk and metal (and I guess hip-hop, but I don't anything about the history of that shit), and I suppose Motown, which probably has its lineage stemming from soul, and there are all those ska and reggae subsets, dub and the like, but I ain't talking about that.  I'm talking rock 'n' roll bands.  The Beatles paved the way in the '60s, and REM picked up the torch in the '80s, mixed metaphors be damned, with a focus on solid pop songwriting, tight 4-minute rock songs written by the band and not some outside hit-maker that straddled that line between appealing to the masses while remaining cool enough for those of us who really get it.  Not easy to do.  REM gave me the Replacements and Gaslight Anthem.  And for that, I'll be forever thankful.

And as long as we're going with controversy, might as well talk about Troy Davis. Not the particulars, of course.  'Cause we don't do that here.  I'm not getting into innocence or guilt, travesty or justice.  But I read the comment sections in various posts on the story yesterday, and, man, it was fucking vicious.  There was a message from Roger Waters on Facebook, a left-of-center though pretty generic sentiment about the "failure of the American justice system," and the things people wrote on his...wall (God, I love a good early morning double entendre) reminded me of my young, Republican self in the 1980s.  I used to have this rant (I've always had a rant, left or right) about how if John Lennon didn't like American politics, he should go back to England.  I must've overlooked the whole "he's dead" part.  There were a lot of comments telling Roger to shut the fuck up and go back to England and make music (which everyone was careful to mention they still loved, on the off-chance Roger himself is going to read Facebook comments, reach out and offer free tickets to someone with the courage to speak his own mind, even if the view is contrary).

I'm not picking a side (really, Duane, I'm not).  OK.  I'm picking a side.  But I've already picked it.  I've made no secret that I am bleeding heart liberal (radical, actually), and with that comes all the usual view, against the death penalty, etc.  But I am not talking about this individual case, and I don't use this blog as a pulpit.  I don't know jack about the case, honestly.  And when I thought about brushing up, getting up to speed, and another analogy that I'm too lazy to think up, I noticed my prejudice.  When the search engine offered the feed, I immediately went to the ACLU's version.  Just like another might go to FOX.  And we already know this. We seek out the versions that back-up our already established points of view.  So there is no learning, no discourse, no growth.  I've got my opinion, you got yours, and neither of us is changing.  So why the fuck are we going to talk about it?




*

Been asked to write a non-fiction story for a Florida-based literary magazine, the rub being that the story needs to be Florida-related.  Only two things happened to me during my brief three years in FLA (that seemed to last forever).  The Divorce.  The Accident.  Detailing five months of an uneventful, ill-fated marriage doesn't exactly get me excited, so I doubt it would get anyone else.  I'm not sure how many pages I could wring out of it, anyway.  Made a bad choice, should've known better, and that's that.  The accident, though...

I've been trying to write that story for a while.  I mean, there are two defining events in my life.  The first, of course, being my drug addiction.  The second is the motorcycle crash that damn near killed me and left me with a body full of broken parts and an arthritic hip condition that seems to get worse by the day.  It's got all the elements for a compelling story: life and death, love and heartbreak, fall and redemption.  Problem is, just not sure how to tell it.  Which is weird because I've worked with far less before.

There's got to be way to make this fresh.  I've tried starting en medias res, which is how I began "Laying Down the Bike," my first Lip Service story down in Miami.  I recently re-read that story, because it was never actually published, but it sucks. Overly dramatic and heavy-handed, not a hint of humor.  The story itself isn't funny, I know, but there needs to be some levity, some lightness.  I am no Andrea Askowitz, but I have my moments of The Funny.  I've written about this disconnect often, between who I am and my writing voice, a gulf I hoped this blog would broach.  Maybe it has.  It's certainly has helped me get some stories published.  I guess I haven't really written much non-fiction outside of this thing.

And Holden is still sick and screaming, and my wife is pissed that I am writing this, which means I don't need to find an applicable conclusion to wrap this all up and tie it together.  See?  That's me, always able to find the silver lining...

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3 Comments:

At September 22, 2011 at 9:34 AM , Blogger DSobczak said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At September 22, 2011 at 9:40 AM , Blogger DSobczak said...

Wow, I am going to struggle with my comment here. On several levels too. I will struggle not to go to long, because as some asshole on the Buffalo Bills Message Board the other day responded to one of my posts tl;dr, which for those of you not in the know, means too long, didn't read. So, brevity is apparently good.

Also it will be hard to avoid politics and a side of religion as well.

I will start though with REM. Never was much of a fan, liked a few of their songs, but you aren't the first I have heard to make this leap. In fact, I seem to recall a story in Rolling Stone, back when I actually read that piece of shit rag, calling REM the American Beatles or something like that.

I find it somewhat interesting that the death penalty is one of the staples of the GOP/Conservative values. Ironic in away, after all they are all portrayed as Christians who pray for rain amongst other things. So, am I the only one who finds it odd that a Repbulican who claims to be God fearing could support something that clearly goes against the teachings of Christ.

As some know, I reside in Texas. A state where they execute prisoners with the efficiency that Larry Bird used to knock down threes. Texas is not a state where you want to commit capital murder.

Now if there is a God and blast me all you want, I tend to believe there is one. I think he has an interesting way of speaking to people.

I will get to Troy Davis in a second, but I want to talk about someone else first. Lawrence Russell Brewer. For those who don't know who he is, the state of Texas executed him yesterday. Brewer and two of his buddies dragged James Byrd Jr behind a pickup in Jasper TX, because of the color of his skin. Reports are that Byrd was most likely alive for most of the dragging until he hit a culvert and he was decapitated.

When Brewer was interviewed the day before he was executed he was asked if he had it to do all over again, would he. His response was basically that he would not change a thing.

I don't know much about the Troy Davis story other than the fact that many people believe that a mistake was made. Here in lies a big problem with the death penalty. We make mistakes and in my opinion executing one innocent man is too many.

I wonder if it is coincedence that these two individuals were executed days apart. Brewer was clearly an evil person and I think a lot of people will not shed a tear at his passing.

It makes me wonder, because it seems to me the pro argument and the anti argument for the death penalty, just had inmates executed in consecutive days.

 
At September 22, 2011 at 10:01 AM , Blogger Joe Clifford said...

Well done, Duane, avoiding the politics. Yeah, it is funny. I know about Brewer, but wouldn't even think about writing about him. Why? If I cared to examine my own prejudice, which I don't, I'd probably discover it goes against my core beliefs. No one wants to argue to keep a Brewer alive. Even if he/she is agains the Death Penalty, he/she prefers to use a case like Davis. But in the end I'm with you, 1 innocent man is too much (and I'm not saying Davis was), even if means a scumbag like Brewer gets to live (then again, I don't think prison is preferable to death...).

 

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