flight, travel

Should it Have Been Funny or Sad?

Dear Internet,

The other day I was on a plane stuck sitting in front of loud people who described themselves as Neo Conservatives. Was the galaxy playing a “funny” trick on me, or a very mean one?

During take off and landing I was unable to shield my ears from their discussion and so I found myself alternating between fits of anger and giggles.

I nearly tore my ears off as the woman (let’s call her Ms. Showbiz for reasons I’ll get into later) explained that poverty will always be a problem because even if money was more fairly distributed there would be some people with more and others with noticeably less. Ms. Showbiz also pointed out that if America’s poor went to impoverished countries they would be well off. I won’t go into why exporting the poor isn’t a very viable solution, it’s just silly (and anyway, selling the poor might be a better idea, with thirty-seven million* people in poverty in America we could really get to work on our trade deficit). But lets just stop for a minute and think about the difference between being less rich and living in poverty. If you need a hint, the difference is the ability to own luxury items versus the ability to afford food, heat, shelter, and have access to things like quality healthcare and education. Big Screen TV vs. Antibiotics. I don’t know, seems like the difference is both different and important.

And Internet, the other thing that the man (let’s call him Professor Blackjack) said about Iraq and WMD’s, was that supposed to be funny? I couldn’t quite follow his “perfect logic,” but somehow the UN getting ejected from Iraq, his claim that Saddam’s generals even thought he had WMD’s, coupled with something about “always bet when you have eleven” justified the invasion and was, according to Professor Blackjack, “the end of the discussion.” I didn’t want to point out that debating the reasons for invading weren’t as important as a intelligent debate on how to end the war, much less that sound logic never uses gambling maxims.

In fact my dear Internet, the only part I know was supposed to be funny was Ms. Showbiz’s speech about why being on planes scared her. Particularly the digression where she explained that when she was younger she tried to be “Ms. Showbiz” and did modeling, dance, acted, and trapeze. Saying how it was good to have as many skills as possibly to land jobs. Because everyone knows that trapeze experience will put you way above the average actress. I heard that was why Meryl Streep got her big break. …Though to be fair it might have put Ms. Showbiz high in the running for circus fashion catalogs. I’ll give her that.

There was so much more, I laughed, I cried, I briefly considered building a twenty foot ray-gun to blast them and any of their similarly silly friends off the face of the universe with, but I’m just not sure which of those I was supposed to do. It was a confusing and difficult time, I’m just happy I escaped alive.

*according to the 2005 US Census thirty-five million people are in the United States are living in poverty, though there are plenty of good arguments for that number being significantly higher… and also some not very good arguments for it being lower.

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music, random

One of the Many Reasons Billy Bragg is Great

billy brag You would have to be crazy and stupid to hate Billy Bragg. That is all there is to it. Today on KEXP I heard a song he played live for KEXP, that isn’t the only place to find it, but it’s the one I think sounds best. Sadly, KEXP uses WMA & Realplayer… I’ve mentioned it before, but let me say again that those are crappy formats. If you want to hear KEXP’s version look under live performances. Anyway—

This new (to me) song’s title is Bush War Blues, which is of course and allusion to Leadbelly’s amazing song Bourgeois Blues. Leadbelly wrote his song after having a bad experience in Washington DC. Billy Bragg is just having the same hard time that all of America, and the world, is having. I suggest you listen to both of these songs, and I offer them both to you here. First some lyrics, and below you’ll find the audio.

Bourgeois Blues
by Leadbelly

me and my wife went all over town
and everywhere we’d go people turned us down
Lord, in a bourgeois town
woo it’s a bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
gonna spread the news all around

me and my wife we were standing upstairs
we heard a white man say “I don’t want no niggers up there”
lord, he’s a bourgeois man
woo bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
gonna spread the news all around

home of the brave, land of the free
I don’t wanna be mistreated by no bourgeoisie
lord, in a bourgeois town
woo the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
gonna spread the news all around

me and my wife went all over town
and everywhere we’d go people turned us down
Lord, in a bourgeois town
woo it’s a bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
gonna spread the news all around

them white folks in Washington they know how
to call a colored man a nigger just to see him bow
lord, it’s a bourgeois town
woo the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
I’m gonna spread the news all around

I tell all the colored folks to listen to me
don’t try to find you no home in Washington, DC
`cause it’s a bourgeois town
woo the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
I’m gonna spread the news all around

Bush War Blues
by Billy Bragg

If you’re worried about Iraq
I’ll tell you this one thing I’m certain
this war is gonna make
the whole world safe for Haliburton

I got the Bush war blues
I got them Bush war blues
I got the Bush war blues
I’m gonna spread the news all around

well they spent a trillion dollars
on this illegal war
could paid all the social security
for a hundred years or more

I got the Bush war blues
I got them Bush war blues
I got the Bush war blues
I’m gonna spread the news all around

we’ve got to find some moderate muslims
with whom we can converse
might be an idea if we try to find
some moderate christians first

I got the Bush war blues
I got them Bush war blues
I got the Bush war blues
I’m gonna spread the news all around

here’s my simple message
to our soldiers overseas
wanna bring them back from Baghdad
send them to New Orleans

I got the Bush war blues
I got them Bush war blues
I got the Bush war blues
I’m gonna spread the news all around

well damn this war on terror
this invasion of Iraq
let’s declare war on poverty
cut the working poor some slack

I got the Bush war blues
I got the Bush war blues
I got the Bush war blues
I’m gonna spread the news all around

yeah, spread the news

cute little smile
curly hair
it’s George Bush’s poodle
goddamn Tony Blair

I got the Bush war blues
I got the Bush war blues
I got the Bush war blues
I’m gonna spread the news all around

[tags]billy brag, blues, bourgeois blues, bush war blues, class, iraq, leadbelly, music, politics, war, class [/tags]

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