‘I Hear Them All’
(Old Crow Medicine Show)
* A nod to Gordon at Alternate Brain for inspiration
I hear the crying of the hungry
In the deserts where they’re wandering
Hear them crying out for Heaven’s own
Benevolence upon them
Hear destructive power prevailing
I hear fools falsely hailing
To the crooked wits of tyrants when they call
“Cities burned. Students marched. Idealism flourished. Drugs flowed. A nation mourned its slain leaders. It was a year both tragic and galvanizing.” Did you catch the special ‘1968’ with Tom Brokaw that appeared on the History Channel recently?
“A few of those interviewed include former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, who was with Martin Luther King when he was assassinated and rushed to his side to try to staunch the wound; Olympic gold medallist Rafer Johnson, who wrestled Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, to the ground; Stewart Brand, a pioneer of the counter-culture featured in Tom Wolfe’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test; Tommy Smothers, former co-host of CBS’s The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, which ran afoul of censors by criticizing the war and the establishment; Jon Stewart, who traces the roots of his Daily Show to the Smothers Brothers; Arlo Guthrie, son of legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie, and best known for his humorous, draft-mocking song “Alice’s Restaurant;” Pat Buchanan, then a speechwriter for Richard Nixon; Robin Morgan, the political activist and feminist leader who organized the braless protest of the 1968 Miss America pageant; and musicians Bruce Springsteen and James Taylor.”
And to add a sour note, ancient conservative journalist Dorothy Rabinowitz, of the Wall Street Journal, was dusted off to debunk the idealism, and expound on the selfishness and narcissistic behavior of an entire generation. Shrew tightened with invective certainty, her slit of a mouth and dull black henna hair perfectly reflected the corruption of preservation that atavistically echoes the Republican power establishment. Somehow, images of vampires and witches entered my mind to opine, “Be gone! You have no power here”. The wise me knows that they do.
Tom Brokaw did a fairly bloodless pantomime of observation, in which the roaring colorful passion of those times could not be stilled by his sepia vision or his painful, almost expressed grief over the death of a solider friend. One had the sensation of watching Wonder Bread interview jimmied Crispy Cremes.
Reaction to the program has been varied, but for those of us who lived at the center of those times, it was a rousing deja vu even as it was infotained through the commercial ‘Spectacle’ of the History Channel’s myopic revisionism. For example: “Tumultuous, divisive, deadly, exhilarating and exhausting, 1968 unfolded with a force, viciousness and sense of immanence incredible in these days of irony and inertia, when the upraised fist has been replaced by the desultory shrug, and the end of the world is taken as pretty much a fait accompli.”
Reading the above opinion, one can just visualize an aging cynic dressed all in black with large clunky black shoes, tribal tattoos, weary of the culture wars, writing second-hand with angst-ridden ennui about events historical. I say take your viciousness, irony, inertia, desultory shrug and eat my ‘hippy‘. Mao wasn’t the first to believe that Revolution wasn’t a dinner party. Patrick Henry had similar thoughts.
I hear the sounds of tearing pages
And the roar of burning paper
All the crimes in acquisition
Turn to air and ash and vapor
And the rattle of the shackle
Far beyond emancipators
And the loneliest who gather in their stalls
On a more compassionate note, we can all understand the despair that prevails today in the thought that: “the end of the world is taken as pretty much a ‘fait accompli’. It’s in the air, and when the dust settled after 9/11 and in the years that followed, sensible intelligent people saw in the trans-legal criminality of the Bush Administration not a phoenix of democracy as promised, but in the person of our Supreme Head of State, the bumptious pageant of decline.
News Flash—–the Revolution isn’t over, not since the Boston Tea Party, and not since 1968. Democracy is not a privilege to be determined by creative restrictions of American founding documents, loss of historic civil rights for our ‘own’ protection, loss of reasonable privacy, a protective mercenary police state, privatization of our civic institutions, corporate pillage, unitary power coups, or fantasies of federalist local hegemony. Democracy is a birthright of Americans, and those who immigrate and labor to join its rights of citizenship. Democracy demands constant sacrifice to sustain its diverse checks and balances. The sacrifice can be bloody, can bring disorder, can bring death, loss, discomfort and terrible confrontation—-that’s the reality of democracy.
The lessons of elders who survived the sixties and kept in mind’s eye the true value of democratic freedom still live in the genuine and historical praxis of the American ‘Revolution‘. The reality community never sleeps, and the Internet has become our Paul Revere.
The Boomer Generation, which brought such change in the late sixties, was an avatar of America’s freedom soul. There is no homogenous ‘Boomer’ set. America is as critically divided now as it was in 1968. What happened was a complex and multicultural populist uprising that stripped away the illusions of national propaganda to reveal the true horror of a cabal of perfidy rotting in the heart of American power.
So, while you sit and whistle Dixie
With your money and your power
I can hear the flowers a-growing
In the rubble of the towers
I hear leaders quit their lyin’
I hear babies quit their cryin’
I hear soldiers quit their dyin’, one and all
Generally, the myopia of make-nice commentary will shroud the events of forty years ago with revisionist thinking every bit as harmlessly addicting as the most entertaining recent commercial: “Brokaw argues the traumatic time ultimately produced valuable lessons for this country and its people. “If there is one enduring lesson for me, it is that we survived as a nation and as a culture. We were altered radically in some areas of our national and individual interests, and little changed in others,’ he says. ‘1968 remains a watershed year in contemporary history, but the effect of it has neither been linear or certain. It represents evolution more than it represents a separate and distinct path of development for American life.”
Brokaw’s ‘suit’ vision of his own youth in the center of a watershed year in contemporary history is profoundly blind as he states in conclusion: ““If there is one enduring lesson for me, it is that we survived as a nation and as a culture.” Not true– so very not true. 1968 was the year America entered in earnest its entopic decline. The Vietnam War was clearly revealed for what it was—a profiteering corporate militaristic fantasy of long lasting fatal results. The old Democratic Party died with Jack Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, the failure of Lyndon Johnson to hoist The Great Society, and perished in Daley’s thug Chicago amid killings, riots, the ghosts of a murderous Kent State and the future charismatic machinations of the Clintons. The First Amendment became a lethal attraction, the Bush administration—-its newly dug grave.
The traditional Republican party died with the pathology of Richard Nixon. With the possible exception of a moral Jimmy Carter, who could not understand the Equal Rights Amendment, every governing exercise in the past forty years has been dominated by imperialism, predatory capitalism, eroding civil rights, and the rising supremacy of the corporate/industrial/ military complex. So permanently fixed is the latter, so damaging to all aspects of American life, and so resolutely exhausting in its completion of destruction, its paradigm cannot now be changed without violence. Magical thinking is not action. Time has run out, and as the fatalist said “the end of the world is taken as pretty much a fait accompli.”
I hear the tender words from Zion
I hear Noah’s waterfall
Hear the gentle lamb of Judah
Sleeping at the feet of Buddha
And the prophets from Elijah
To the old Paiute Wovoka
Take their places at the table when they’re called
The laming of critical thinking, intellectual feebleness, religious corruption, collapsed educational systems, destruction of the foundations of working and middle class prosperity will bring end times no crabby father sky god will forestall. No second coming will raise up to glory, those pathetically deluded, prosperous, praying Jesus junkies who step over homeless vermin, blame liberals for the human condition, and pray fervently for the ascendancy of privilege.
Speaking of the human condition, charming, kindly, Baptist Republican aspirant to the presidency, Mike Huckabee sees no need to adjust or apologize for his opinion that AIDS sufferers, particularly gays, should be quarantined in camps and isolated from decent American citizens. That would certainly take care of the undesirables:
* An estimated one million people are currently living with HIV in the United States, with approximately 40,000 new infections occurring each year.
* 70 percent of these new infections occur in men and 30 percent occur in women.
* By race, 54 percent of the new infections in the United States occur among African Americans, and 64 percent of the new infections in women occur in African American women.
* 75 percent of the new infections in women are heterosexually transmitted.
* Half of all new infections in the United States occur in people 25 years of age or younger.
That Huckabee is running neck to neck with another religious fantasist, Mormon Mitt Romney, is no surprise.
No more potent sign of the times was CNN’s recent feature of the Westboro Baptist Church, a controversial cult headed by Fred Phelps based in Topeka, Kansas. It runs the websites GodHatesFags.com , GodHatesAmerica.com, and others expressing condemnation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people,Roman Catholics, Muslims, and Jews, as well as populations it believes are supporting the aforementioned groups, including Swedes, Canadians, Irish, British, and Americans.
These righteous Baptists have for years picketed the funerals of HIV dead, harassing the families and mourners grieving in loss. While decent Americans remained silent over the desecration of the dead for nearly twenty years, a few eyebrows were recently lifted when the Phelps turned his Gorgon’s gaze on new victims. Phelps, his lawyer family and congregation now know that God hates 9/11 victims, who deserved their deaths; God hates their surviving families; God hates fags, of course; God hates American soldiers wounded and killed in Iraq; and last but not least , God hates America. To drive home their hatred of life, these saintly Baptists picket funerals of the dead . Such false Christians are the maggots waiting in the tomb of Jesus. What is it with the Baptists? Did not their namesake prophesize the Prince of Peace? Is it possible that Baptists are ignorant of Mathew 5:3-12:
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they shall possess the earth.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
But, hey—-in the end run, those of us who heralded the Revolution of the 60’s, thinking it would bring a New World Order, were wrong for all the right reasons. The right reasons were true to The Age of Aquarius. The old order that has undermined America for nearly half a century is killing the golden goose, and we are living through the last gasps of road kill. “To the crooked wits of tyrants when they call” we say ‘bring it on.’ We’ve been there before and willingly pay the price again. Millions of us are patriots, diverse in mindset and opinion, but we share in common, loyalty to the foundations of our democratic union, mindful of the treasures of our freedoms and the beloved Republic for Which They Stand.
I can hear the flowers a-growing
In the rubble of the towers
Zucchero & Randy Crawford
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