Saturday, April 20, 2019

Kate Smith, etc.

 I'm not sure who was the first to shout "Kate Smith!" in a crowded hockey stadium, but it's a question worth asking. Certainly there are many who consider themselves left of the dial who are also petty people, but most of the people I know or know about who are working for change now don't have a lot of spare energy to research, let alone campaign against, offenses of a singer popular decades ago, as they are too busy fighting for things like housing, employment, and access to health care. Let's call that point A.

Point B: As any hack stand-up will tell you, hockey is a sport widely understood to be predominantly played by and enjoyed by white males, and it has a reputation for indulging physical violence more than most sports do. Now, who would be most interested in establishing a hot-button issue that might unify or even mobilize a group they perceive as being white males who might be receptive to violent behavior? I'm not sure what a left-leaning agenda gains from poking this particular bear. So as usual, it seems to me that it's the scumbags with power who have the most to gain from pursuing new ways to drive wedges and foment discord among groups of working people -- particularly at a time when a lot of working people are pushing back against the moneyed and powerful.

Point C: Before getting all riled up about how nothing is safe and no one is sacred, maybe the thing to be thinking about is not how hyper-sensitive some people are, but rather, just how many of our nation's sacred cows were involved in some very problematic shit. Some were steeped in it, while some simply walked in with a bit on their shoe; but it all got shit on the carpet, and it all helped us grow accustomed to the smell to the point of near passivity about it. So instead of freaking out over the uppity-ness of those calling such offenses out, consider another perspective. Namely, "Goddamn, look how racism, sexism, bias, and ugly thinking has been woven into damn near every move we've ever made as a nation!" If that doesn't give you real pause, you might not actually be as American as you think.

Point D: All people are flawed, and all people are problematic. This is the truth of us, despite decades of A&E Biography et al simplifying the lives of the influential for easier public consumption. The best way to honor someone we perceive as "great" on some level is to recognize that their life, like everyone's, is/was a balancing act between their flaws and limitations and their capacity for greatness. That the best lesson a life lived well can offer us is how they got past all the bullshit -- internal and external -- that threatened to capsize them and pull them under. These are the real lessons best taken from those we admire -- seeing them as they were as clearly as we're able. I like statues. I especially like that birds shit on them. I think of it as nature's way of reminding us of that balance I'm talking about.

Point E: Fuck hockey, fuck all pro sports (that corrupt, murderous, soul-taking industry), fuck meaningless, compulsory patriotism, fuck blind, two-fisted, uncritical allegiance to any person, place, or idea, and most of all, fuck any and all who would divide us by introducing arguments for the sole purpose of playing into and shoring up our fears and prejudices. In situations like this, "Who called the tune?" is just about always more interesting -- and relevant -- than whatever gets everyone so steamed in the first place.

Finally, Happy Borgnine Saturday! Because despite everything, it is Borgnine Saturday, and that's something worth celebrating.

© 2019 Wyatt Doyle, all rights reserved.

Monday, April 15, 2019


NYC soul punk legend Jon E. Edwards' career-spanning collection Continental/International is here at last!

 File Under: Party Soul. The cream of legendary performer Jon E. Edwards' hard-to-find studio recordings and unheard music. Includes the title song from the award-winning documentary Jon E. Edwards Is in Love and collaborations with Tony-winning artist Stew (Passing Strange, The Negro Problem). Soul grooves, punk energy. Funky bubblegum and heartbreak. Swagger and class. Continental/International. CD and download available everywhere from New Texture. Get it here.

Kicking it off right, here's the video for the album's first single, "Business Card," co-written with Stew:

Director: Will Vaultz /
Producer: Nicky Vegas / @nickvegasnewyork
Jon E on Instagram: @echelonltd

Album producer: Wyatt Doyle