"WhatI really learned in the army was how to be a pacifist."
Bruce "Utah" Phillips
According the obituary in the Globe & Mail newspaper Monday, 16 June, 2008, about the legendary folkie qua union organizer, Utah once placed his TV set in a lilac hedge at the back of his home, tied a scarf around it, taped a cigarette to the front of it, and sent it to the Great Beyond with a shotgun blast.
The other day, a good friend, quite proudly I must say, announced that when he reached age 70, he stopped buying and reading newspapers.
I would certainly never chastise such decisions by anyone to rid themselves of the exposure to today's mass media. In fact, despite my own addiction to the electronic aquarium, I applaud the Howard"I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore"Beale's of the world. If firing a bullet hole into your wired wonderful world of Disney cathode ray tube, or tossing it over the balcony,gets your rocks off, be my guest.
Of course, in the Middle Ages, news was spread among the great unwashed by means of songs, as the wandering minstrels of the day travelled from town to town, lute or harp in hand,imparting the news of the land by means of singing ballads or reciting poetry.
In some ways, this was the start of the modern song form. In order to remember the stories, the balladeers would create short succinct verses, 4-6 lines that rhymed. As the news of the day developed over the weeks and months, new verses were added and as the songs became longer and longer, people either nodded off to asleep or shouted obscenities, another reason the wandering minstrels kept wandering. Call it "The Birth of the Boos." The ole mouth born raspberry, so often tossed the Brooklyn Dodgers, as well as throwing rotten eggs and tomatoes.
I have no evidence to impart, however, that any of them were picked off by shotguns or appropriate weaponry of the day. It is a good bet though that the young maidens went home with the bass player.
Now, more to the point, I began thinking of all the stories that my dear friend, or anyone engaged in TV set executions,might have missed recently.
There was an excellent documentary, on PBS last Saturday night, about Pete Seeger. a wild and crazy 'commie' guy. He's remarkable, a banjo player, who that got gigs, to boot!
For Sports' fans, how 'bout Tiger Woods, at the U.S. Open? Even on one leg, Tiger beat back the opposition with birdies and eagles and just plain human drive and talent.
Or how the Turks scoring three goals, in less than 15 minutes, to oust the beleaguered Czechs from the Euro Cup last Sunday? Then, gulp, scoring the tying goal with time virtually out in stoppage time of OT, and then winning the quarter final match-up against the stunned Croatians in a shoot-out.
Not enough? The young Croatian with the kidney transplants scoring a remarkable goal against Poland as well as the one goal the team scored today in the quarter final.
The Boston Celtics coming back from a 24 point deficit to defeat Kobe and the Lakers, in LA, and then wrapping it up at home. So refreshing to see team guys like Paul Pearce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett winning it all, especially against the less than humble Mr. Bryant.
How would these modern Luddites know about 2 rare whiteravens with blue eyesbeing found on the Left Coast or, gulp, the mystery of the running shoes washing up on BC coastline? Something is definitely afoot Sherlock!!! It's elementary my dear Watson! An advertisinghoax, by Nike, no doubt. "You can leave this mortal coil but your shoes will never rot: Call OUR 1-800-HOT-LINE begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-HOT-LINE end_of_the_skype_highlighting "WE HAVE YOUR LOVED ONE'S SHOES."
My favourite story of the week however is the one about the famous Vij's restaurant here in Lotusland that is now serving crispy critters - crickets! In the future, grasshoppers served in tandoori sauce or something.
Apparently, crickets are full of iron, calcium, and are environmentally-friendly... once dead. They don't cause deforestation of the rain forests unlike those big beefy things that spew noxious farty methane gases into the atmosphere.
Eat a cricket and save the environment! It works for me.
I'll report back to ya once I've given them a go. I'm a bit squeamish but only cause the family dog's name was Cricket.
Otherwise, fill up that wine glass and open the gullet.
The first time I ever ate octopus, I had no idea. It was in a "fish soup" in Spain. From there, by the time I left Cordoba, I was happily downing raw herring and baby crabs in their own ink...pour some more cervasa por va fore, where do I fight de bull?
Well, as usual, I digress.
When Pete Seeger was with The Weavers, the group had the opportunity to do a cigarette commercial for TV. When Pete, a non-smoker, non-drinker, asked the reason, he was told "cause we need the money." Pete left the group saying "we don't need the money that much." Now, there's integrity for ya!
Pete was not averse to appearing on the ole Boob Tube, when they let him, but he wasn't about to sell-out to commercial advertisers.
In those days, one could puff that cigarette and walk a mile for a Camel but if you were suspected of un-American activity - meaning if ya dissed Old Glory or the President or spoke about "unions" other than the ones between men and women, blessed by the church, and racial equality- you were banned from the air-waves as a commie pinko rat. Such was the fate of ole Pete - for almost 20 years, till he finally was allowed to appear on the Smothers Brothers Show and sang "we're waist deep in the big muddy and the big fool says to push on." The big muddy was Vietnam. The Big Fool was President Johnson...and the rest is historical.
As we already know from the Dixie Chicks experience, not much has changed in the ability of the big fools to smoother dissension in the land of the free.
In any event, I certainly can sympathize with those who turn-off their TVs or shun newsprint due to sheer volume of, or space taken-up by, Advertising. Even the 'alternative' press here in Lotusland - The Georgia Straight - begins now with 4 pages of full-page coloured ads. Once passed the post, trying to find the articles among the barrage of ads in any newspaper is a task not for the faint of heart or Mr. Magoos of the world.
As for our friends from Nike, in case you really think I was over the top, the good news, in case you missed it,is Tiger Woods' dad is NOT dead. You can hear him in a voice-over Nike ad as clear as the day he was born. How's that for bad taste! Maybe Adbusters can counter with a Charlton Heston voice-over ad blasting a shotgun bullet into his TV whenever that Nike Ad comes on, shouting "from my cold, dead hands."
Now, in reference to the above, you should also be acutely aware that there is more value today in being dead or non-human than being a normal breathing slob, holding down the nine-to-fiver.
Recently in the TV advertising landscape, I have seen car-making robots playing basketball and cell phones marching like penguins o'er Antarctic ice fields.
You, shoes or no shoes, have been replaced Bunky. You are an unemployed time-bound worthless piece of degradable packaging. When you croak - and you will - and maybe meet Tiger Woods' dad,have no fear - your new cell phone is "life proof." That's what it says in the ad. "Life proof," and that's for sure.
Robots as Michael Jordan, er, well, even though they're white robots.
Cell phones got bigger and better than God.
Capitalism will eat itself. Chomp. The next consumer item fad is you!
Imagine a planet with no human beings and a bunch of cell phones talking to each other about last night's robot's basketball game?
"Blow up your TV, throw away your papers, move to the country, and build you a home..." John Prine.
I say, old being,
Bob Stark is a musician, poet, philosopher and couch potato. He spends his days, as did Jean-Paul Sarte and Albert Camus, pouring lattes and other adult beverages into a recycled mug, bearing a long and winding crack. He discusses, with much insight and passion, the existentialist and phenomenological ontology of the Vancouver 'Canucks,' a hockey team, "Archie" comic books and high school reunions. In other words, Bob Stark is a retired public servant living the good life on the wrong coast of Canada.
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