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This Land is Our Land... - Pulling Out The Savoy Truffle

sirpaulsbuddy
Date: 2007-07-07 09:52
Subject: This Land is Our Land...
Security: Public
Mood:contemplativecontemplative
Music:Woody Guthrie, "Danville Girl"
Watch the kids. Do like they do. Act like they act. Yell like they yell. Dance the ways you see them dance. Sing like they sing. Work and rest the way the kids do. You’ll be healthier. You’ll feel wealthier. You’ll talk wiser. You’ll go higher, do better, and live longer here amongst us if you’ll just only jump in here and swim around in these songs and do like the kids do. I don’t want the kids to be grownup. I want to see the grown folks be kids. - - Woody Guthrie

I went to a July 4th celebration a couple of days ago.

I live in South-side Virginia, an area economically depressed because of the loss of the tobacco and textile industries. My wife, in fact, works for a think tank/research and education center/business incubator - built by tobacco settlement funds and guided by Virginia Tech - in our city that is devoted to trying to find new business opportunities that will offer the citizens of this region better paying, more meaningful work than their former masters in the textile and tobacco factories.

To the vast majority of my fellow citizens in Danville, I may as well have stepped off a UFO. They’re overwhelmingly dedicated church going evangelicals who vote for Republicans and believe everything George W. Bush tells them because he seems one of them. I’m a leftist progressive - one who grew up in another textile town about 25 miles away across the border in North Carolina.

There’s a disconnect when we try to talk beyond simple chat.

I avoid getting into conversations with my neighbors because I’m apt to say something critical of Dubya or Jesus that will offend them at almost any moment. They avoid getting into conversations with me because I’m some egghead with “librul” ideas that they find threatening or immoral.

So when a couple of nice neighbors suggested we attend the July 4th celebration at the big outdoor amphitheater down by the river from which the city gets its name - I was reluctant. I’d seen the program and, while it was patriotic and I’m a patriot, it was also corny with little kids singing and politicians “saluting veterans.” I’m a firm believer in giving veterans all the help they need - but I hate to see them trotted out like their medals for political purposes as they often are at July 4th celebrations….

My wife wanted to go, though, so we went. I had to endure a local singer doing his renditions of right wing propaganda - songs like Merle Haggard’s “The Fightin’ Side of Me” and Alan Jackson’s over-sentimentalized cash-in on 9/11, “Where Were You?”

When two little girls were introduced as the next entertainers. I groaned - too audibly, I guess, because several ladies around me looked at me rather annoyed.

And then the girls began to sing.

They had lovely voices and they blended them in that rich old harmony that made the Carter Family, fellow Virginians, legends of country music. And they sang traditional folk standards: “Keep on the Sunny Side” and “Farther Along.” Their only accompaniment was their father playing acoustic guitar. It was charming and simple and true. It was authentic music.

And then the magical idea that is America came upon us all.

woodyguthrie.jpg

Without fanfare, the girls launched into “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie. By the time they got to the chorus at the end of the first stanza, I could see people in their lawn chairs and seated on their blankets singing along:

This land is your land and this land is my land,
From the California to the New York Island,
From the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters,
This land was made for you and me
.

I began singing, too. There we were - a bunch of Bush loving conservatives who’d had a blue state progressive foisted on them - singing a song by a wandering minstrel who loved and celebrated people like them because he was one of them - as I am, in truth - and who was himself a leftist of the first order.

The delicious irony of all these folks who thought of themselves as God-fearing supporters of The Decider singing a song by a guy who opposed guys like Bush with all his might wasn’t lost on me. I smiled at the people around me as we sang as I thought about it.

And they smiled back, moved to joy by a great American and his music. And blissfully ignorant of how he’d be savaged by Fox News, et. al. for his politics - and how they’d believe that he and his love for his country were bad things because they were told that they were….

But it was July 4th and Woody had us all singing about our country:

As I went walkin’ that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway,
Saw below me, that golden valley,
This land was made for you and me.

And he knew what he was doing, too:

I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard traveling. I am out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood. I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built, I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work. - Woody Guthrie

So we sang together - liberal and conservative, egghead and evangelical.

And somewhere Woody smiled and played and sang along.

Don’t tell me this isn’t a great country….

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Jeff
User: nokomisjeff
Date: 2007-07-07 23:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That was a good post.

I don't know why Fox News gets such a bad rap, and gets savaged so badly by the left. Their panel discussions offer always have liberals on them, much more than CNN or MSNBC. Hell, Fox has Geraldo, for God's sake. Still, Fox does have a rightward slant, just as a valid argument could be made for the opposite slant of CNN, the networks, and MSNBC. The only conservative I ever see on CNN is that little guy Tucker Carlson, and I don't think to highly of him.

All of the sniping in those channels has really turned me off to the news, and politics in general. I'm not going to change anyone's mind, and nobody is going to change my mind. I really only vote my pocketbook.

Since I don't watch the news anymore, I've been so much happier watching sitcoms, baseball, and cartoons.

Aloha,

Jeff
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Don Felipe del Mundo
User: manincowboysuit
Date: 2007-07-08 00:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I can't see that Fox News is any worse than CNN or MSNBC, and can't take anyone seriously who posits otherwise. Whatever their voter registration says, the people who run these things are the same suits, different station. There is no such thing as objective news. Filter their bias, filter yours, you approach the truth.

And on to the last line... does anyone listen to baseball on the radio anymore? For some reason I find it incredibly comforting, while baseball on television just puts me to sleep.

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Jeff
User: nokomisjeff
Date: 2007-07-08 01:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Actually, I love to listen to baseball on the radio. It allows me to use my imagination, the broadcasting is better, and it transports me to when I was a grade school kid sitting in class with a little earphone in my ear listening to games.

We always have a game on TV, and I watch way to many games per season.

Baseball is such a chess match IMHO.

In my life, I've only watched one super bowl. I watch a little college ball when my alma mater is on TV and usually loses...but it's all good.



Aloha,

Jeff
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sirpaulsbuddy
User: sirpaulsbuddy
Date: 2007-07-08 02:54 (UTC)
Subject: Baseball on the radio...
You said it, Phillip. I have XM and I often listen to games rather than watch. There's something quintessentially both literary and American about a ball game on the radio - something that TV doesn't quite capture...
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cwmackowski
User: cwmackowski
Date: 2007-07-08 06:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I can't make it through a ballgame on TV, but I like to listen to them on the radio when I get the chance. I'm a Yankees fan, though, and even though I'm in NY state, I can't seem to find them too often.
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sirpaulsbuddy
User: sirpaulsbuddy
Date: 2007-07-08 02:52 (UTC)
Subject: Fox News, CNN, et al....
My problem with Fox News, Jeff, is that they don't report news. They gave something like 5 times the coverage to Anna Nicole's death than they did to the Iraq War over the 3 month period after her demise. That's not journalism, that's tabloid stuff. And the so-called "liberals" on their "discussion" programs tend to be straw figures for assholes like Bill O'Reilly to pontificate at....

Not that I think either CNN or MSNBC are much better - although they do somewhat better on reporting meaningful news, they spend waaaay too much time on the same tabloid crap as Fox - and they tilt and slant their "discussions' just as Fox does.

The news media in general is in sad shape. On that we can agree. :-)

And cartoons and baseball are the staff of life, aren't they...?

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cwmackowski
User: cwmackowski
Date: 2007-07-08 06:38 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Fox News, CNN, et al....
The news media in general is in sad shape, indeed, agrees the journalism/mass comm professor.
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Jeff
User: nokomisjeff
Date: 2007-07-08 22:57 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Fox News, CNN, et al....
Cartoons and baseball make me feel just a little better, whereas the news, politics, and tabloid stuff makes me feel worse. I choose to be happy, especially when I have no control over the world's events.

The liberals on Fox do have some strong credentials..Geraldo, Juan Williams, Alan Colmes, and Maria Liasson are pretty sharp cookies. Fox also does tend to present people from both sides, but I'll agree that some of their guest liberals tend to just stick to the DNC talking points. However, Lanny Davis and Robert Reich make frequent appearances, and present their cases intellegently and logically. Fox does, IMHO, treat it's guest liberals more fairly than the token conservatives are treated by CNN and MSNBC. Fox is more laid back, for sure, but they sure have good ratings....they must be doing something right.

I don't like O'Reilly myself, and consider him to be a pseudo-populist who's all over the map. However, I never resort to calling people names, despite what I might think of them personally. Name calling just diminishes the argument and I was quite suprised that you called him that name.

I'd like to read your source for the amount of Fox's coverage of Anna Nicxole's death vs. Iraq war. In that source, did they also compare the coverage of CNN and MSNBC? Just curious:)

Aloha,

Jeff
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sirpaulsbuddy
User: sirpaulsbuddy
Date: 2007-07-09 01:30 (UTC)
Subject: The O'Reilly factor....
Sorry if I offended you with my O'Reilly comment, Jeff. He's a bully and he gets things wrong too much - but he's a very successful demagogue and misinforming people tends to bring out the angry side of my political nature.

Here are two examples of his act:

http://scholarsandrogues.wordpress.com/2007/06/23/oreilly-loses-on-are-you-smarter-than-a-16-year-old/

http://scholarsandrogues.wordpress.com/2007/05/31/oreilly-openly-advocates-racist-sexist-government-that-discriminates-on-the-basis-of-religion/

And here's some info on the reporting of Fox, CNN, and MSNBC on the Iraq War and Anna Nicole:

http://community.livejournal.com/5th_estate/299355.html

Again, sorry I got a little nasty with the O'Reilly thing. But he's quoted as if he were a prophet here where I live and I keep telling people he's as bad as Rush, who's now sort of "outed" as a hypocrite, but people keep drinking his Kool-Aid when I warn them he doesn't play straight with the facts - just like Rush.

So there's a frustration level with people's refusal to think and his manipulation of that which sets me off at times.... ;-)

Hey, you should hear me when Andruw Jones is swinging at bad pitches.... ;-)
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cwmackowski
User: cwmackowski
Date: 2007-07-08 06:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
What a great post! I love the "egghead and evangelical" line near the end.

This is, indeed, a great country, despite some of the crap we all have to put up with (regardless of political affiliation).
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sirpaulsbuddy
User: sirpaulsbuddy
Date: 2007-07-09 21:08 (UTC)
Subject: Jesus and John
I get your point, Mike, but my comment was an oblique reference to Lennon and the controversy about "more popular than" that created such a furor. Guess I didn't get through with that subtle reference. ;-) And, yes, you're spot on about the real issue with those "followers" rather than with their Leader....

BTW, you'll find the newest post (going up in a few minutes) right up your alley. A band you are vaguely familiar with, if memory serves....
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