Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sweeping the Nation!****

And the world.

Reading (and writing a stupid comment) over at my friend's blog (and the fact that I have a paper due soon and don't feel like writing it) have prompted me to come out of hiding. Two blog posts in a months time, can you stand it??

I guess I'm technically an ex-pat. I never liked that word, because "expatriate" sounds like an "ex-patriot," which would make me a former patriot, which is not the case. I like to think that I'm still a patriot, even though that word has until recently (yesterday) had negative connotations. Many folks would have you believe that while Bush was in office, you were supposed to be ashamed of the US of A. Being an expat, and apparently a representative of the US and therefore accountable for all of Bush's policies, I have been called to the carpet many times by the locals for everything from the GWoT to subprime lending. Yes, all Japanese people are aware of subprime lending. All I can do is shrug and tell them that the situation is more complicated than the news reports, and that I lack the language facilities to explain it. This is somewhat true -- I can express what I understand, which isn't much, but it's much easier to feign ignorance because I really don't feel like engaging in such conversations. The same goes with the concept of patriotism and love for one's country. Patriotism and nationalism is strange to Japanese people, as it was illegal until 2006 to teach it in schools.

Anyway, I like to think of patriotism in simpler terms. It's like your family. They might piss you off, but they're still family. You still love them, and even if they really fuckup, it's not cool for people outside of your family to talk shit about it and it's OK to get irritated about it. Something like that.

Anyway, this post wasn't supposed to be about patriotism -- my point is that to me, real patriotism isn't something that changes depending on who's in office. It shouldn't ebb and flow like the tide, and it shouldn't explode because of a terrorist attack or some other tragedy. It's shouldn't be a fad and it shouldn't be bandwagonable (new word).

Living in Japan, I'm no stranger to bandwagoning. Japanese culture is probably more susceptible to bandwagoning and "group think" than other places due to how children are socialized, and I always think about how much fun and easy it must be to be a marketing executive here. I sometimes think they have a contest to see how insulting and brazen they can be, but it never fails -- they sell products and the absurdity of each "boom" is trumped by every successive "boom". I guess I never thought the USA was really so susceptible, but bandwagoning seems to have morphed into something interesting. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the:

Bandwagon of Free Thought

Its genius lies in its irony. Who would have thought? Now, bandwagoning on political issues is one thing -- it's sort've like the love for a sports team (which I also have trouble wrapping my mind around). Usually it's a side or a team or a movement, but free thought? Disagree? You're an automaton. You're a neocon. You're a fascist. But you're certainly not a free thinker unless you're on board. It appears that atheism is en vogue these days too, which based on some stuff I've been reading, is a little disturbing due to fervor with which people are not believing in God. Irony. And everyone knows I've been an atheist forever*.

Watching the festivities on TV is like getting kicked in the jaw by irony over and over, as I see people putting so much "hope" in a man who has so little experience. Granted, he is an amazing orator. He inspires. He could very well turn this country in a new direction, but I'm sure most people don't really know how. They just believe he will. Believe, my friends. It's not a matter of hope, it's a matter of faith, because faith and hope are directly at odds with each other**. Faith is stronger than hope, because people with faith know without knowing that something is so. Ya dig? Historically, faith is the stuff of bandwagoning, while hope can lead to ostracism.

So yeah, I'm hopeful. I hope for increased social welfare reform. I hope for a more liberal form of democracy. I hope for world peace. I hope for anthropomorphic garden shears dancing in butterscotch waterfalls***. But faith is never something I've been particularly good at, for which I am eternally doomed grateful. I wish the new Commander in Chief good luck, and sincerely hope for a good next few years.

* - level 6
** - I got that line from Tom Robbins' "Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates"
*** - Free beer to whoever can get that reference -- no googling! (You won't find it on google anyway ;) )
**** - This post is convoluted and pretty much sucks

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Redneck Gays

I know I don't post a lot these days.. This academic program I'm in offers me enough of a writing outlet I guess, and by the time I'm done reading and writing I don't really feel like writing anything more. Nammean?

That doesn't mean I don't have the same amount (or lack thereof) of shit floating around in my head as, say, youm (yes youm), but sometimes when I sit down and scratch out an idea, it's disjointed and unorganized. I'll figure it out sometime. A biproduct of being forced to write/critique organization for class and for my job makes me scoff at shit that is too here and there.

That won't stop me from posting the following drivel though.. Assuming my 3 readers even pop by anymore...

So I spent the new years at the inlaws' house. New years in Japanistan is kinda like Xmas in the US of A in that it's a time when you get together with the fam. Imagine my chagrin when I realized what the alternative to drinking all night and kissing strangers would be. Sacrifices, folks.

Anyway, on the way back I was getting a little drowsy and the missez was sleeping, so I drank a redbull and busted out the ole' CD case. I have a jukebox in my car that automatically dumps CDs onto a harddrive, so I don't usually look at the CDs, but I had a good idea for keeping myself awake.

Back when it was cool and not risky at all to download the piss out of copyrighted music, I, like any innerwebs user, did so. My friends did too. We would also make CDs and dump all our music collection on eachothers' HDs as well. So I have 6 "backup" CDs with about 200 mp3s on them a piece. My car can play mp3s off of CDs, so I started throwing the backup CDs in and cruising down memory lane.

I don't have an iPod and refuse to buy one. I have a little mp3 player that I listen to when I'm doing boring cardio, but to be honest I haven't updated the play list in about 3 years. I love me some music but I'm not the "gotta have 10,000 songs with me at all times or I'll just DIE" type person. Six CDs with 200 songs on it a piece though, that's nothing to sneeze at. so I made my way through the CDs from the back, starting at #6, which is where I get to anticlimactic point of all this buildup, namely a song by Rage Against the Machine.

I'm not really a fan of RATM -- their stupid lyrics are a little hard to handle. Some of their stuff is cool though, and I always liked "Renegades of Funk". Give it a listen if you haven't before, or you'd like to be reminded of it.

Anyway, I was listening to it and I remembered what a regionally famous friend of mine (Eddie) once said, probably about 10 years ago. "You know," he said, "the first time I heard this song I thought they were saying 'We're the Redneck Gays who Fuck.'" So the song comes on about 4 hours into my drive home, giving me a serious case of the giggles thinking about it. Here are some token lyrics:

Since the Prehistoric ages and the days of ancient Greece
Right down through the Middle Ages
Planet earth kept going through changes
And then the renaissance came, the times continued to change
Nothing stayed the same, but there were always redneck gays
Like Chief Sitting Bull, Tom Paine
Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X
They were redneck gays of their time and age
The mighty Redneck gays

We're the redneck gays who fuck
We're the redneck gays who fuck


There was a time when our music
Was something called a Big Street beat
People would gather from all around
To get down to the big sound
You had to be a redneck gay in those days
To take a man to the dance floor

I dunno. I guess it seemed a lot funnier then. As I write it down, like my other stuff, it's really not that funny. You know, singing a tribute redneck gays (who fuck) having a huge impact on history with such earnestness. Or calling MLK, Malcolm X, and Sittingbull "Redneck gays". That's funny to me.

Anywho, I was surprised at how listening to songs I hadn't heard in so long re-energized me. The drive went by really quickly, as I listened to songs I hadn't heard in forever and reminisced about where I was/what I was doing when I was "into it". Anyway, I thought I'd share a few of the other songs with you that I heard during my walk down auralmemory lane. You can tell I was on CDs 5 and 6 'cuz the names of the groups are all at the end of the alphabet. Enjoy.

Some Ween:

A little stinkfist ala Tool:

Used to watch this on that show 120 Minutes on MTV as a college freshman. I kinda liked it:

OutKast and frayunds for mah bruvvahs: