"Apparently, a concern for others is self-love at its least attractive, while greed is now a sign of the highest altruism. But then to reverse, periodically, the meanings of words is a very small price to pay for our vast freedom not only to conform but to consume."
Who cares what I have to say about a relatively obscure music form and how it does or doesn't share common value with a hidebound movement on its last legs?
Well, the first part of that answer is that America needs a labor movement. There is not a free, first world country on the planet that does not also have a free, vibrant, and independent trade union movement (in many countries where state repression is the norm, trade unions are appendages of the state). Here in America, the labor movement is separate from the state. At times it has colluded with it, like during the Cold War when unions within the AFL-CIO played a significant role in suppressing left-leaning workers' movements in the third world. Still, at home, American unions and the state often have separate interests. The time when 1 out 3 Americans belonged to labor unions represents the time when prosperity in this country was its most equally divided among the classes.With union membership at its lowest since the turn of the 20th century, American inequality is surging. The two facts are connected, if not causally, then at least with statistical significance:
Why should anyone care for a discussion about how punk values and union values collide and complement each other?
The answer is simple: for the same reason that we care about and discuss how religious values compel us to advocate for the least powerful. For the same reason we debate and argue over the role that our experiences as people of color play into our consciousness. Or our class experiences and how they form our opinions of what transpires around us. Those values, experiences and backgrounds are like the air they breathe. You can try and leave them, but they'll never leave you. For me, the values I learned in the punk scene and from punk music continue to resonate, long after I stopped being a participant in any formal scene, and long after I stopped being up to date on the latest releases and what moves the kids these days. As Frank Turner sings--"All the latest music fads all pass me by and leave me cold, and all the kids are talking slang I won't pretend to understand."
If you want to start a discussion about the connection between the spirit of punk and the labor movement I find myself a part of, you have to start with what 'punk' means. Which is nearly a useless endeavor. How can a scene that generated GG Allinand The Appleseed Cast have any common thread? At the risk of being called a coward for not even trying to answer that question, let me say this: lots of people have tried to nail this down, and it's very tricky business. I think that the most you can really say about what 'punk' means is to narrow it down to what it means to you.
So, having listened to this music for the entirety of my adulthood, here's what it means to me: it's the total democratization of music, its production and its distribution (a very labor-oriented project). It reprsents a fight when the odds are so ridiculously stacked you have no hope in hell of winning. It's a jubilation more buoyant than any sugar high you've ever felt, and it's a total anger over things that you never had any control over. It's valuing humans and humanity. It's the beauty of profanity, sex, drugs, and rock and roll. It's a sick joke. It's the total rejection of the privilege life handed you so that everyone gets a better deal, or as Propagandhi puts it so nicely:
"And yes, I recognize the irony that the very system I oppose affords me the luxury of biting the hand that feeds. But that’s exactly why privileged fucks like me should feel obliged to whine and kick and scream- until everyone has everything they need."
I've begun an outline on a bit of creative work--trying to synthesize the two biggest passions in my life--punk rock music and the fight for working people. (other than my family, so I guess make that three passions). I've begun thinking about how the spirit of punk and the spirit of fighting for workers have similarities and tensions and what those are, how they inform my active work as a union representative and how they shape my perceptions of the massive struggles we find ourselves involved in. I'm still struggling with whether this is a contribution to the punk community or the labor community. Both? Neither? Dunno. I'm going to start fleshing this out in the coming weeks. Some of the already established works I've been drawing on are "Which Side Are You On" by Tom Geoghegan, "Hope Dies Last" by Studs Terkel, the "Philosophy of Punk" by Craig O'Hara, and some other works. Plus the thousands of songs that have inspired me over the past 15 years. Here's one:
So, I was shopping around for a new blogging platform, because you see it's been three years since I wrote anything here. I started to put something together on wordpress, but it simply wasn't working, so I went to blogger.com which directed me back to my old site. And I thought to myself--why should I reinvent the wheel? So what if I took a three year hiatus? Screw it man! So here we go again. What happened in the past three years? We had a kid. We moved back to the east coast to be closer to family, which was good because a few of them started getting really sick. We sold a house. We bought one. Made adult decisions regarding 401(k)'s and the like. Got disinterested in blogging. Got re-interested in it again. So there ya go.
I cannot believe it's been a month since I last posted. Well, here, have some pictures from my trip home over the holidays.
A very tired pup.
A tobacco farm in Eastern North Carolina where we had some lunch visiting family.
Mrs. Drinallmyyears heads back inside to talk to her family at the farm. Those are tobacco curing sheds on the left. They smell great when you open them.
A cheese biscuit. It's actually a heart attack disguised as a cheese biscuit. Seriously. That pile of orange to the right is the cheese that spilled out of the biscuit through the baking process. Man, I could go for one right now.
That's about a five-inch sheaf of snow hanging over my gutter by the back door. It snowed four inches on our return last night. This is the result.
Well, if you haven't been paying attention, Rudy Giuliani got caught using the pocketbook of the New York City to pick up the tab for the mistress he was nailing. This video explains why only he can use this 'weakness' to demonstrate that he's to lead America.
Below are some photographs of families with their next week's worth of food:
First the Revis Family of North Carolina:
Next, the Casales Family of Mexico:
Next, the Ayme Family of Ecuador:
And finally, the Aboubakar family of Chad:
In addition to the fact that the Sudanese people clearly don't have a father, and must be freaking hungry, a couple of other thoughts jump out at me. For one, notice the amazing amount of packaging at the American kitchen, versus what you find in a Mexican home, and Mexico's not a world away. Look at the difference in vegetables. It seems the the poorer you get (save for the Chadians) the more fresh vegetables and grains you eat.
You know the routine. You think to yourself, "Jesus, I know I've seen the lowest that the Bush administration can go. They can go no farther down. Seriously."
That's where you'd be wrong. Because they always find new and innovative ways to ruin the lives of regular Americans. Always. Case in point: People who enlist in the military often get 'signing bonuses' to re-enlist after their contract is up. It's very common. What's new is that the Bush administration's Department of Defense is demanding the signing bonus money back from veterans who have been injured in the line of their service.
That's right, the same people who pillory Congressional Democrats for doing what the American people want--namely, trying to pass legislation to fund the troops and get them home--are demanding back the signing bonuses of injured veterans.
“I tried to do my best and serve my country. I was unfortunately hurt in the process. Now they’re telling me they want their money back,” Fox said.
These people fucking suck. They suck. They're not human. That's really the only explanation that one can come up with after you look at the things they actually do (rather than the things they say). They really do make you lose all faith in human beings with nearly-unlimited power to conduct themselves with a tiny modicum of human freaking decency.
Especially since Boy Wonder and Darth Cheney themselves passed on any meaningful military service when they were asked to serve, and especially since their offspawn have similarly declined to enlist in The Most Important War of All Time, Seriously, We're All Going To Die Unless We Kill All the Muslims Everywhere (TM).
I know you're not supposed to hope that people go to hell after they're dead.