Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lenny Bruce Weekend

"To Rant: Speak bombastically, violently, theatrically. To declaim, pontificate, trumpet, preach, bellow. A tirade, diatribe, or rhetoric." (Oxford dictionary) Rant is in the dictionary right before "Rap." Yikes. This weekend I received feedback on the quasi-political rant I floated out. The best (and most adverse) was "Tom, stick to the songs!" I agree. I don’t want to turn into Joan Baez, Steve Earle or Phil Ochs. You might end up hanging yourself in Far Rockaway. Political rants are just: "old newspapers blowing down Bleecker street." Like Fame. The world is always better served by artists: Van Gogh, Cocteau, Geronimo, Dylan. Not politicians. The lasting stuff. But, hell, I had a momentary lapse - and now they found out ole Sarah Palin tried to ban William Faulker books from the library and goes to a "Pray Against Gays" church? I'll leave it all be. The reader who said "we get the leaders we deserve" was correct. George Bush reminds me of a lot of the guys I went to college with. Frat cats with slight beer guts. Sorta dumb. He truly does represent the average American male. He's got a difficult job. But, perhaps we deserve a change. And just when things were settling down here on the ranch…. this weekend NPR chose to run an old interview with myself on my song "Who's Gonna Build Your Wall?" That caused another minor shit storm with the white rednecks. You can read all the reactions on the NPR web site for "Weekend Edition." There's plenty of 'em. "If Mister Russell thinks that white people are lazy….well he is wrong." And how about: "The law is the law." I always enjoyed that one - seeing how I studied law a got a whacked out Criminology degree. I think we all learned everything we need to know about American law by watching the O.J. Simpson trial. The law is not the law. It's administered and interpreted by flawed mankind. It's on the take. It serves those who have the money to twist it. There ain't a lot of rich folk on death row. That being said, I'd rather live here than in Russia or Croatia. And white people willing to work at the same jobs illegals are covering? Give me a break. Most of all hard labor done on the border - this side - is done by illegals. Even on ranches owned by hard core Republicans. The wall in San Diego was built by illegals! Nobody else is gonna do the job. The wall began as a knee-jerk reaction after 9-11 when, with all our technology and CIA expertise, we couldn't find a bearded fanatic living in a cave in the third world. We better close up them borders! Protect ourselves. Well now they've run out of money and the wall sits there like a depressing black shroud over the landfill where I dump my tree limbs. In the end, folks, Lenny Bruce summed it up: "the truth is what IS; not what should be." The killed him for that one. And now I've had enough of the rant…believe me, I work on songs first thing in the morning before I vent my spleen on this stuff. Fun though! Adios. (Corky: just exactly why do I need to be doing a blog? You got me into this. )

6 comments:

Tom said...

Don't you worry, sir, about the shades of opinion and invective. The artist is in the public square with everyone else, and without him we'd be a lesser species in a lesser place.

epazmany said...

Without the occasional rant, we run the risk of becoming political lemmings-keep it up Tom!
On a lighter note, Tom, when are you coming back to the DC area? 'Maybe to that funny 'strip mall' in Vienna, VA.....

Cheers

editor said...

I'm of the belief that whatever stokes passion is good for art. Political songs can be really good (Eiza's Highway 9; Steve Earle's Rich Man's War) or really bad ("Yeah, the Revolution starts now"? Gimme a break, Steve).

It all depends on whether the polemic overtakes the craft. Who's Gonna Build Your Wall works because it's personal, one guy's observation of the world he sees. The Revolution Starts Now sucks (other than the Stones-y riff) because it's just preachy and sloganeering.

I think the best "political" song I've heard in years is Eliza's "Tender Mercies". It doesn't tell you what to think, it just photographs the world and rips your heart out.

Saddle Tramp said...

Tom . . . As one avowed to remain [apolitical] I share in your dilemma, however there comes a time. You have struck on that hour. In the spirit of Emilio Zapata and others. Diego rode for the cause with pistola in hand until he was forced out if it. Artist / Warrior. An oxymoron? I don't know. Many ways to fight. Lenny Bruce was in a battle with society's hypocrisy and joined martyrdom as a secular saint. Truth is like the wind. You can feel it, but it cannot be captured. In the hiearchy of truth [yours] may be above one and below another. You keep climbing until you can see more of it. An ocean without shores. Myth trumps
facts if it speaks to a higher truth. Many a man slaughtered on his way to find it. In my pocket OED " rant " is geographically located between " ransom " and " rap ".
Ransom is what is happening.

Bankrupt the wall, before it bankrupts us.
The truth has left town . . .
and only it's ghost remains.

-ST Devil's Canyon in The San Raphael Swells (Utah) where The Swasey Brothers trapped wild horses in Juniper branch traps and where I slept last night on the edge of a
moon filled canyon. Somewhere down there is a petroglyph of " The Lone Warrior ".

P.S. KCS . . . The whistle of the " Kansas City Southern " sings to my dreams all night long next totheir tracks in Neosho, Missouri where I park for the night before loading the next morning.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Tom,
You are a voice in all quarters Tom, that is just the way it is. And some of us out here listen and think. Cheers.
Rangimarie,
Robb

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