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Monthly Archives: March 2011

Never Forget

That You Never Want Me To Forget Someone I Never Knew

I live in the kind of liberal California town where the local denizens think of their car bumpers as canvases for their overflowing identities. And it’s not just the crusty vehicles that don their cultural wares. Even clean, newer vehicles often have a Biden/’bama sticker nestled somewhere for those driving behind them to contemplate.

But one particular kind of bumper sticker, well, sticks out among the others. They are stickers like the kind shown above. They implore drivers to never forget someone they most likely never knew. Such as: Never Forget- Shucks McGee. Or, Never Forget- Chuck Gutter. ‘Who the hell are those people?’ I find myself wondering when I see such stickers. ‘And why do they want me to never forget a person I never knew in the first place?’.

I accept the need for people to color their vehicles’ bumpers with stickers, so I think they should stick around– only they should be placed somewhere that gives the driver full access since they are the ones who knew their dearly departed in the first place. Places like on the dashboard, the steering wheel, the handle to the driver’s door, the rear- view mirror, or on the hood of the car facing them. Then it is reasonable to expect that that person won’t forget their departed. And anyway, if someone needs to be reminded in the form of a bumper sticker not to forget someone, maybe that person isn’t exactly worth not forgetting in the first place.

So my sticker for these people reads like this:

Never Forget- That You Have A Never Forget Sticker On Your Car

Others:

Never Forget- That I Have A Never Forget Sticker

Never- Forget- That I Don’t Want You To Ever Forget Someone You Never Knew

Never- Forget- Please Check To Make Sure I Don’t Either

Never- Forget- And Remind Me From Time to Time!

Never- Forget- Ah, Forget It, You Probably Never Knew Them. But If You Did…

Never- Forget- But It’s Okay If You Don’t Remember

Never- Forget- Anything, Ever. Unless You Remember It.

Did You Know Chuck Gutter? If So, Never Forget Him. He Was The Best.

Any I missed?

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2011 in Musings

 

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H’idy

The only Western to win Best Picture for the way the characters say "Howdy"

Ever since I saw the 1931 movie Cimarron a month or so ago my life has been turned upside down. Well, not really, but I was shocked into recognition as to how one is supposed to say “Howdy”. I think our ideas of “Howdy” have been shaped by easy- going, white, country bumpkin- type characters. Speaking for myself anyway, the greeting “Howdy” always has had a jovial tone to it. Sort of a good-natured vibe. Not so, however, in Cimarron.

You have to hear the way they say it. I am convinced that the characters say it the right way. It has a gruff, hard edge to it. You don’t actually pronounce the rounded “ooww” of the common usage. You basically have a hard and somewhat prolonged “H”– think of a James Brown ‘HUH’– followed with a quick “idy”. None of this “hooooowwwwwdy friends” business. The Cimarron way is more of a grunt. “H’idy”. You say it with grit and get it over with.

It’s a beautiful way of speaking let alone greeting someone. I can’t do it. I try and try but I just can’t. I am sure there are still men and women around who can say it the way it ought to be spoken, but as for me those people exist solely in the land of Cimarron. Where the frontier is forever expanding, whites are on the make and folks grunt something like “H’idy” to each other while gauging when the other might try to shoot them.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2011 in Randomness

 

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Wake Up! To the Soothing Sounds of a Chainsaw

Living up in the quiet, peaceful mountains away from the bustle of the city, there is nothing like waking up to the humming sound of a rip- roaring chainsaw. It is pure serenity. You might think that waking up to a table saw, or a dog barking at you from outside your apartment would be more divine, but you would be wrong. You might also think that your luck might have it so that among the 13 acres of property your landlords own, one of them did not have to run the soothing beast outside your window in the morning. Once again, you’d be wrong. You also might think you can relax in bed and let the humming of the chainsaw purr you back to sleep like John Lennon only wished he could in “I’m Only Sleeping”. Sadly, you would be mistaken.

Also functions as alarm clock.

Your only choice is to rise in obedience and respect to the ethereal sound emanating from no more than ten feet outside your window. The chainsaw will not be snoozed. It is not like the bells of the local church, willing to stop tolling its wares over a sleepy and grey New Jersey town. It will not be defied. “RISE!” the chainsaw says. “RISE FROM YOUR SLEEP AND SLUMBER! I WILL NOT ABATE UNTIL YOU RISE!” So I do. I rise. I put coffee on the stove and I begin to wonder whether its necessary for my landlord to use a chainsaw to take the twigs off sawed up pieces of wood and put them in a burn pile. I begin to wonder if its healthy to live up in the woods where rising oceans can’t reach me, where shrieking tires late at night can’t be heard, where drug dealers and drug addicts do not hang around—except for the occasional meth freak or junkie running from the law. ‘In a world of steel- eyed death and men who are fighting to be warm,’ the chainsaw brings us full circle. Together at last.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2011 in Musings

 

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Music and the Modern Age- listening to pop music because it’s popular

WRITER’S NOTE: this is a subject of great interest to me. This being my first post, I am sure that I will not get around to offering answers that will deeply satisfy me, if there are any to begin with. Instead, what I hope this accomplishes is opening up dialogue on a subject of curiosity to me. Now that I think of it, I hope I do fail at this, because then I can keep coming back to it!

Growing up in the 1980s, I was not aware that one kind of music was more socially acceptable by being the current style than another. My parents grew up in the 50s and 60s and still listened to the popular music of their time as much as what was currently happening. I remember being able to tell the difference between Smokey Robinson and Madonna, but I wasn’t aware what social connotations those differences held. I recall feeling more connected to 50s and 60s music compared to 80s pop, and because neither styles of music said anything to me about my place in our cultural time-frame, I decided to like what music most appealed to me, which ended up being music my parents grew up on. This brings me to the subject of this post: Music and the Modern Age- or, listening to pop music because it’s popular.

Friends of mine often tell me they like pop music in spite of, and often because of, its annoying or idiotic qualities. They can appreciate those qualities simply because, growing up with the changing trends of pop music all their lives, they are used to it. They don’t even really have to think about it, can just enjoy the melodies and lyrics for what they are. But what I wonder is whether they accept pop music simply because they are told to– whether by the media, their friends, or their desire to fit- in. Not everyone wants to question why they are being told to like something, and some people do not care one way or another. And that’s fine. But listening to music simply because it is the current style means much more than just enjoying music you don’t have to think about.

Which makes me wonder: why listen to self- acknowledged bad music? The best response I can come up with is this: living within any cultural time frame necessitates people to engage in cultural products in order to negotiate situations they are confronted by. People like to feel connected to and a part of current trends of American culture– it gives them a sense of being grounded and assures their place in space and time. It’s a cure for an all- encompassing spiritual and cultural ennui just waiting there to compromise their existence should they deviate from the social norm. All of this is understandable, to a degree. However, is all of this worth it when larger questions and issues can be then be raised regarding our individual and collective places in American culture, let alone what role the media takes in forming our relationships to one another? Bad pop music may be fun to listen to when your getting ready for a night out, but its influence in our daily lives does not end there. It also has a hand in how we communicate– through language as well as symbols– to each other through its ability to open up a world of cultural representations of a modern identity.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2011 in Music

 

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