Friday, February 20, 2009

More Beheadings, More Stevie Wonder

Nothing starts the week quite like a beheading. Sure, taser-ing (?) someone to death is a real attention getter, what with it's more modern reading on humanities inescapable brutality, but there's just something timeless about a beheading--and timely too. Certainly by now you've all seen this--the episode of The Oracle where Max Keiser and James Kenneth Galbraith (not to be confused with John Kenneth Galbraith) discuss beheading bankers.

(As with the first beheading post--as with all blog type things--it's the comments really make the subject matter come alive.)

Since the media is trying so hard to put the beheading meme front and center, I though the polite thing to do was to join in--both in thinking about beheading, and amplifying that thought-form. Team player!

To be honest, I don't much care for beheading, and see it as, for starters, a crisis of creativity. Besides, beheading is a far too quick (and ultimately ineffective) way of balancing the books, so to speak. No, the bankers should lose their jobs, their homes, their health care, their teeth, their hair, their continence, and all the rest. "What? We can't live in New York City on $500,000 a year!"

But again, the "gangster nature of the state" demands we think about heads being removed from bodies, and so who to behead first?

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Here's a fun quote from internet super star Adolf Hitler: The Victor will never be asked if he told the truth.

What if "we" beheaded liars. If you lie, off with your head.

Would it be a deterrent?

What would be left of industry?

What would be left of government?

What would be left of education?

A lot of job vacancies, that's what!

What would the world be like if the lying were to stop? What would music be like? Not only would the music industry be immediately de-populated of musicians and those extra musical characters who make money off of musicians, but the music industry--the mechanisms in place by which extra musical characters promote and sell music would forever be changed. (Of course the economy will recover and the Grammy's will proceed as scheduled, and lying will never stop so don't get too worried.)

Speaking of fun quotes, here's a fun quote from Albert Einstein: I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.

If I had to look forward to one or the other, I'm inclined to look forward to World War IV. Will the music industry be better or worse once we're back to sticks and stones? When defending the sacroscant, how will music industry and intellectual property lawyers duke it out against savage barbarians? Too bad there won't be any television at that point, as that would make for some good viewing--the staff of Berger Kahn issuing their C&D's with their fists. How about an ultimate fighting match between Owen J. Sloan and Jerry Outlaw. Who wouldn't want to see that?

How about Dizzy Gillespie's prophecy of the future of jazz being that of "a man beating on a drum?" Did he mean a synth drum with a "patch" downloaded (legally of course) from the internet?

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Getting back to Stevie Wonder and things you shouldn't really have to explain, here is Mr. Wonder's version of the Carpenter's hit We've Only Just Begun.

No difference since both taking money and both totally co-opted. Uh, sure, you can say that, if that makes you feel better--everyone likes to say things that make themselves feel better, and most of us do it compulsively, regardless of truth content. Far be it from me to get in the way of that. For those of you who truly find "interesting" the question of how artists make a living in the wider "parent" culture with out compromising their art perhaps it will be "interesting" to see my personal, subjective, no-relation-to-truth-or-reality reading of the actual beginning of the end for Mr. Wonder--the point of no return--the event marking the point where the ferment has turned the fruit into booze.

(Of course "we" never defined what constitutes "making a living" and I suppose that means different things for different people.)

But first, a quick Bill Dixon memory. Bill Dixon used to give a lecture class on Saturday's that lasted around 4 hours. He'd pick an artist each semester--Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Cecil Taylor--and go deep into their work mostly by playing their music and, either through personal memory or printed examples, attempting to paint a portrait of the social conditions from which the music evolved. One time when discussing Cecil Taylor the question came up of how Cecil Taylor could "afford to live in New York City" making the music (and not the money) he did. Bill Dixon paused and asked "would you rather talk about Cecil Taylor's music or would you rather talk about Cecil Taylor's finances?"

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While it has been opined that the moment you take any money for any kind of musical labour (but not computer work?), you've already lent your hand in your own destruction and started a quick bidding war on your soul, it is also true that someone can walk around for a long time with cancer before they actually "have" cancer. Can you dig it? Does life begin at the moment of conception? I guess that all depends on what you mean by "life" and who did the conceiving. Does music end with the taking of money? I guess that all depends on how much money you take, who you take it from, and what you're taking it for. There's plenty of people out there who would say Bush II was a delightful president, too, so maybe words don't mean anything after all...

So here we are, at the Grammy's in 1975. Stevie is seen and heard here taking a mega swipe at the Nixon administration, and by mega swipe I mean annunciating many of the frustrations and hurt feelings of many of his (Stevie's) constituents.

And that was the end of that (depending, of course, on your agenda, because in a way and at that point, Stevie had only just begun...)