The InsiderOne Daily Report
Wednesday, January 24, 2001
The Lyin' Kind
InsiderOne's Michael Goldberg writes: For some time now, America has been looking backward, perhaps because the present and the future look so scary. So we buy Chrysler's retro PT Cruiser. We watch Ken Burns' history of a music that is all but dead and voraciously consume the CD compilations that complement his "Jazz" TV series. We devour a Beatles greatest-hits CD. The past is a safe place to retreat to in the face of a technological revolution still forging ahead. Now we have a new president who wants to be seen as a down-home old-school kinda guy, who thinks that if he dresses and talks like plain folks, circa 1950, people will think that's what he is. On the day Bush was inaugurated, the San Francisco Chronicle's front page featured a picture of W. in a tuxedo, looking like something recently removed from a wax museum, pulling up his slacks to show off a presidential seal on one of his cowboy boots. He was on his way to something called the Texas Black Tie and Boots Ball. How quaint! How folksy! How rootsy! His public awkwardness and his just-folks routine is intended to send a very specific message: George W. Bush is a real American, an average American, a Mr. Roberts kinda guy. But is anyone fooled? Less than 10% of the African-American people who voted in the election voted for him. Why? Because his campaign B.S. about representing all Americans was perceived as just that words with nothing behind them. We see through his lying. We may want to take refuge in the past, but what we see standing in those cowboy boots is a corporate robot, an evil creature devoid of heart and soul, akin to the anti-hero in James Cameron's "T2" who kills anyone in its path. Bush comes across as an arrogant fool who thinks people will believe anything he says. He talks of a bipartisan government, then moves to install right-wing cranks in his cabinet. A TV newsman confronted him, suggesting that since he doesn't have a mandate to carry out his campaign promises, perhaps he needs to consider what the American people want, including the majority of Americans who didn't vote for him, rather than just doing what he and his corporate owners want. His reaction? No way. It's as if he thinks we have no memory, that each day is brand new, with no history. Now he's the president and he'll do what he thinks is right. We now live in a country where a man who was not elected, but is pretending that he was, has taken the office of president. A man who hopes to push through laws that don't reflect the will of the people, who is beholden to corporations and seems anxious to do their bidding. Who wants to install individuals in his cabinet who are on record in favor of the Confederacy. Who wants prayer in the schoolrooms. What should a citizen do under such nightmarish circumstances? Should one follow the laws of this country, even as the president we didn't elect plans to take actions that could destroy the environment and set back equal rights and women's rights to choose whether or not to have a child? I have felt for many years that there is an implicit understanding with the country you live in: you get to live in the country, and you agree to follow the country's laws, even if you don't agree with them. But we're now living in a country where the president himself didn't play by the rules. Do we, the people of the U. S. of A., really want drilling for oil in Alaska? Do we want racists in positions of power? I don't know anymore how a responsible citizen should act under these circumstances.
Datastream: Tim Easton is an alterna-country artist you'll be hearing plenty about. According to music critic Chris Nelson, you should listen up when you do. Nelson profiles Easton in a feature that ran the other day in the Chicago Tribune, ("To Tell The Truth"). "The stories on [Easton's album] The Truth About Us play like they're set behind a gauzy curtain," writes Nelson. "Part of the effect is Easton, whose voice sounds like an airy cousin to Bob Dylan's or Steve Earle's. And part of it is the textured sounds conjured by Wilco, whether it's Ken Coomer's doomed drumbeats or Jay Bennett's ethereal keyboards, which hover like an angel outside the window. But mostly it's Easton's lyrics. They reveal just enough for you to recognize a raw nerve struck or feel a knot in your stomach, but rarely tell the whole story. 'This feels like the night my plane goes down/ Twenty minutes later your train gets to town/ Why'd you have to come around when I'm away?' he sings in 'Half a Day.'" Easton goes on to tell Nelson, "I don't mean to be a confessional songwriter. Often I'm writing about someone's life that I eavesdropped on. A song might just start with one line, one idea, and then it has to be finished and some of it has to be pulled out of thin air." ... If you head over to the MP3 area of the Matador Records site you'll hear an alternative version of Mary Timony's "Poison Moon" and a new song, "The Hook," from Stephen Malkmus' solo debut, which will see release Feb. 13.
The InsiderOne Daily Report appears weekdays at 9 AM PST, except when it doesn't.
Michael Goldberg is the president of insiderone.net. He founded Addicted To Noise in 1994.