Debunking the Threat (#3)

I haven’t done a “Debunking the Threat” post in awhile. Rolling Stone (I thought) had tamed their ridiculous Threat Assessments, but I was wrong. In the newest issue (#1112, September 2, 2010 – the one with the naked & blood-spattered cast of True Blood on the cover) on pages 44-45, we find RS’s newest Threat Assessment, which gives us some insight into how effed-up the magazine’s priorities are. On the red side of the Threat Assessment (remember red=conservative, and therefore, bad & “against us”), we have, in order from bad to worse: “Civilian casualties in Afghanistan jump by 31 percent this year,” followed by “Pentagon bans troops from reading Wikileaks,” followed by, “Unprecedented heat, fires, smog kill thousands in Russia.” And the absolute WORST thing that’s happening right now? The BIGGEST threat to civilization as we know it? “Bats in northeastern U.S. in danger of extinction.” Yes, you read that correctly. The possible extinction of bats is worse than an increase in civilian casualties in Afghanistan and worse than thousands of Russians dead from out-of-control wild fires. Also, the Pentagon ordering soldiers not to read Wikileaks is worse than increase of civilian deaths in Afghanistan. Why is censorship and the death of bats considered worse than the death of thousands of human beings in Afghanistan and Russia? If anyone has an answer as to why RS hates the human race so much, could you share it please?

Religion and The Prez

As you may have heard, there has been a great deal of uproar over the fact that, according to a recent poll, approximately 1/5 of Americans believe that President Obama is a Muslim. Now, I think that this is false, as do most people. However, I can see where people might get that idea: he spent a good portion of his formative years in Indonesia (the nation with the largest Muslim population) and his father’s side of the family in Kenya is Muslim, and his whole name (Barack Hussein Obama) is very Arabic/African/Islamic. Despite all of this evidence, I do not think that the Prez is a Muslim. Has anyone ever seen him praying toward Mecca, or entering a mosque? He hasn’t even spoken at a mosque during his presidency, something that George W. Bush did to reach out to Muslims after 9/11. Aside from having a post-Ramadan feast in the White House, he really hasn’t done much that signifies his supposed status as a Muslim.

Having said that, I’m not really convinced that President Obama is a Christian either. He attended Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s church which was Christian in name, but not in what was taught there. Racism and hatred of the United States seemed to be the two main lessons from Reverend Wright. Also, President Obama’s mother was an atheist, so it is not likely that she took little Barack to Sunday school. His grandparents on his mom’s side were Unitarian, and he did live with them for awhile, so any snippets of Christianity that were picked up in his childhood likely came from the Unitarian church that they attended. Since he has taken office, President Obama has not attended church more than a handful of times. The President is, of course, a very busy man, but (at the risk of sounding like every conservative pundit ever) he has had a lot of time to play golf and take vacations, so why not go to church? My theory here is that the President is not really a Christian. I think he’s basically non-religious – maybe not an atheist, but he simply doesn’t think about religion very much. It is not a priority for him, which may be why he declared that the US is not a Christian nation (even though most people who are religious in the US are SOME form of Christian). I think he declared himself a Christian because that’s what people expect from an American president, but I’m not sure he really buys into it. Obviously no one can know for sure. This is a private matter – the President’s religion (or lack thereof) is between him and God.

Where Are the Feasts We Were Promised?

“Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see.” -proverb

Over the past several years of my life, I have been lied to repeatedly, mostly by people that I do not personally know. Speakers at both high school and college graduations have told me that the world is my oyster – that if I work hard and do well at the tasks given to me, I will be successful in both my career and life. I have been told that The Mission is Accomplished and that unemployment won’t go over 10%. I’ve been told that education is one of the most recession-proof career fields. I have been told that the economy is on the rebound and that things are looking up, up, up! I’ve been told that eating no bread but all the bacon you want will lead to weight loss. I’ve been told that Facebook has improved its privacy controls. I have been told that there were WMDs in Iraq, and I have been told that there were NOT WMDs in Iraq. I’ve been told that Iran is not building nuclear weapons and that North Korean didn’t attack that South Korean ship and by golly if you retaliate we’ll blow you up. I’ve been told that President Clinton DID NOT have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky. I was told that Senator Larry Craig just has a wide bathroom stance and was for sure not hitting on that cop. I’ve been told that the Gulf oil spill has been stopped… three times. I’ve been told that Lady Gaga is a true artist, not just some pop singer looking for attention. I was told that some companies are just too big to fail. I was promised “hope” and “change,” along with no new taxes on families making under $250,000 a year. I’ve been told that $3,000 shoes and handbags are “investment pieces” and that it’s ok to give it up on the first date – no, it doesn’t make you a whore, it just means you know what you want. I’ve been told that the climate is changing and it’s all my fault because I breathe too much. I’ve been told that Biggie, 2pac, Elvis, and Jim Morrison are all dead… and alive. I’ve been told that, crazy as it sounds, unemployment going up is actually good. I’ve been told that the United States government knocked down the Twin Towers. I’ve been told that no one knows where Osama bin Laden is. I’ve been told the “swamp” that is Congress (specifically the House) is going to be “drained.” You can’t believe everything you hear.

(The title for this post is taken from a poem written by Jim Morrison of The Doors that was turned into the song “Ghost Song” by the rest of the band. It is my favorite Doors song. Hippie awesomeness at its best. You should listen to it below.)

To Paradise in Under 4 Minutes

I’m so excited. I love music from the 1990s – “new”/alternative rock really hit its stride then, particularly with the advent of grunge from the Northwest region of the US. But in addition to grunge, the ’90s had some pretty amazing rock come out of California. The Chili Peppers continued their reign of awesomeness, Incubus was beginning to hit it big near the end of the decade, and Sublime became everyone’s favorite band to smoke up with. The Red Hot Chili Peppers & Incubus are still alive and well and going strong, but Sublime was not as lucky. Their lead singer, Bradley Nowell, died of a heroin overdose at age 28 in 1996. (WHEN will these guys learn? HEROIN WILL KILL YOU. Jeez.) Their most popular/well-known album, the eponymous “Sublime” (containing hits like “What I Got,” “Wrong Way,” and “Santeria”) was actually released after Bradley’s death. He didn’t even live to see the major success of his own band. So, this is all very tragic for Sublime fans. But then, the Dirty Heads & Rome Ramirez happened. Rome, whose voice sounds damn close to Bradley’s, has joined the surviving members of Sublime to create… SUBLIME WITH ROME! They’ve been touring all summer & plan to produce a studio album – their first in over a decade. Is Rome Ramirez Bradley Nowell? No. Can anyone ever fully replace Brad? No. But Rome does a damn good job anyway. And these guys, the Dirty Heads – they teamed up with Rome to do THE most awesome, catchy, Sublime-like song of the last decade and a half: “Lay Me Down” which is officially my favorite song of the moment, and I’m going to share it with you in just a moment. But, in typical Sheepery fashion I have to explain WHY it’s awesome before you listen to it.

1) It’s like Sublime. I mean, clearly that makes it awesome, just by itself.
2) The storyline of this song is this: Two people (Bonnie & Clyde-like figures) commit a robbery and are on the run. They dream only of getting away from the law and retiring to paradise together with their ill-gotten gains. The sheriff catches up with them, confronts them, and they shoot him. Now they can finally relax and enjoy their new life on a beautiful Mexican beach. Ok, so it’s pretty messed up if you take it literally. The story is actually very much like a cross between “I Shot the Sheriff” & “Take the Money and Run.” Both of those songs are very popular, despite the…unsavory actions of the people featured in them. Why is that? Do all Americans (and Jamaicans) secretly want to shoot police officers & rob their neighbors? I doubt it. I think these kinds of songs are popular for 2 reasons: 1) In the case of “Take the Money & Run” & my new favorite “Lay Me Down,” the songs describe a thrilling (and unrealistic) adventure – two lovers on the run from the law, traveling, partying, having a good time, etc. and 2) All 3 songs are really about escape (ok, “I Shot the Sheriff” is about social injustice in Jamaica, but just roll with me here, ok?). All 3 songs have a figure that represents The Man – Sheriff John Brown, Billie Mac (the detective down in Texas), & Sheriff Sparks & Billie Green. The Man could really be anything that you find oppressive, unfair, or just downright boring – your job, your boss, the government, your parents, your incredibly dull, boring life, etc. In two of the 3 cases, the hero(es) of the songs defeated The Man and escaped to freedom and paradise with someone they love, all while having a big adventure along the way. In Mr. Marley’s song, the Man is defeated but consequences abound. Our other two pairs of heroes get off totally free. People just like that idea – not of actually gunning down people, but of getting out from underneath an unpleasant person or situation and ending up in a much better, happier, warmer place, preferably with a loved one and lots of money that you didn’t have to work hard to get.
3) It’s a perfect summer song. And I’m so jealous of everyone in the video. Why can’t I be on a beach in Mexico with my other half, playing in the waves and hanging out with a band in a bar? Real life is just so LAME sometimes. I think I’ll distract myself (and you) with some musical fantasy:

Monday Songs

Today I want to share some of my favorite Monday songs with you, since it is, in fact, Monday. These are all very different songs and most people will probably not love all 3 of them, but I do hope you’ll give them all a listen. First, I bring you “Thank God it’s Monday” by NOFX:

Next we have “Monday Monday” by The Mamas & The Papas:

And finally, Orgy’s cover of “Blue Monday:”

I hope you enjoy them, and I hope they make your Monday a little brighter!