Thursday, June 4

Here's Meddle More Attractive

Indianapolis Racist Star:

Police kill dogs after attacking woman on the Far Southside

MY recollection is that the flashbacks started Saturday, and followed close on the heels of my watching a two-minute snippet of Woodstock, which I probably ought to mention right off the bat is a movie I've never seen more than two-or-three minutes of at a time, partly because there was one idiot in high school used to drive us nuts playing Hendrix' "Star Spangled Banner" over and over, and mostly because I didn't give a shit (not that I wasn't a teenaged concert-going freak). Plus, even before I could drive, was pretty well convinced that the bombing jet planes were never going to turn into butterflies above our nation, or any of the nations they were then bombing the shit out of, with bombs, not Love droppings. My chronology might be a little confused, but only because I wasn't really paying attention to either the flashbacks or the movie.

The half of the screen I was half-watching featured a Hippie girl. We have dealt with the etymology before, and might just again, but for now suffice it to say she was wearing a headband, which, unless you can demonstrate a tendency to perspire at clinical levels, or an imminent, or recently concluded, athletic endeavor in which you participated, makes you a Hippie. And she's being interviewed about nothing, which is what you would interview such people about, although it's theoretically possible they were discussing something important and I was just watching the other half of the screen at the time.

Any road, at one point the interviewer said something to her about "taking it on blind faith", to which she replied, "Blind Faith? I know they're a groovy group."

Now, sure, there was a sort of deer-in-the-headlights thing going on all along, but the distinct impression I got was that she was attempting to blow off the interviewer and his, like, linear, L-7, 15th century theological constructs. Which would have been entirely sensible (though it would have been even more sensible to tell him to Fuck Off in the first place), except for the attendant problem, which is that you just fucking called Blind Faith "groovy".

Okay, for you kiddies, Blind Faith was the "first supergroup", which was a concept looking for someone to give a shit, and that someone wasn't me, any more than it will turn out to be you. Steve Winwood (ex-Traffic and one the the world's great soul singers) sang and played keyboards; Ric Gretch (who quit Family for a chance to be a log in this crap pile) played bass; Ginger Baker, ex-Cream, continued banging on percussive instruments and my nerves; and Eric Clapton played God. It was, in essence, not the transference of the aesthetically successful All-Star concept from professional sports to music, but the first Giant Rock Star wank, and it survived for one bad album which merely proved that Winwood could sing, Ginger Baker banged on things, and that tremendous, even occasionally transcendent guitar technique did not mean you had musical taste, something Clapton would go on re-proving for the next quarter century. Oh, and that the public had no taste, either, since the thing went to #1. Plus, Americans had never heard of Family. Nor would they.

Now god knows bad taste is common enough; what was odd about that exchange is that I don't recall ever hearing someone use "groovy" in everyday speech, and I knew people who said "Far out" often enough to make your ears bleed, which is more than once. The only people who ever said "groovy", to my knowledge, were extras on Dragnet '67, and, for some reason, songwriters; the fact that Paul Simon was able to continue earning a living after "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)" is a testament to just how long a culture can sail without a rudder.

And then I was in the garden, and the disembodied but still bow-tied head of George Eff Will was spiraling around me saying something like, "the inarticulate tribalistic lowing of the most cosseted generation in history, clad in its workman's denim, the uniform of non-conformity", and then his face melted into snakes an' skulls an' shit.

Or maybe it was just that half-week spent arguing Abortion with the men's choir from the Cathedral of Whomever the Patron Saint of Profound Disingenuousness Is. I know it was a fool's errand, but Doug Masson had quoted me on the fact that abortion was everywhere legal in this country from the days of English settlement until after the Civil War, and by the time I dropped by two or three commenters had replied that that was "based on 150-year-old science" and that as we now knew, scientifically, that Life begins at Conception, the whole concept was officially debunked. Really. Imagine arguing in that crowd that, seeing as how 19th century German theologians had shown the Bible to be an error-filled collection of Bronze Age folktales, all that First Amendment Free Exercise stuff was moot. Instead, I did what you might have done, had you a similar degree of poor impulse control: I demanded one example from the scientific literature. One guy in the back coughed up a series of pull quotes from junior-high biology texts.

(There are Wheels within Wheels, and Sideshows within Sideshows; a comment I'd made about the question belonging to Metaphysics, not Science, returned the comment that I "was projecting my personal confusion" on the issue, as though if I'd said something about Quantum physics it would have proven I knew less about the matter than Aristotle did. "It's a Metaphysical question," says I. "Fine. Just tell us when you think Life begins," came one reply.)

And then, of course, the next morning someone guns down Dr. George Tiller in his church, and the first I hear of it (local news, playing incontinently in the living room) Dr. Tiller is described three times as "the controversial abortion doctor", and coverage devolves from there: the Kabuki of rabid anti-rights groups denouncing both the murder and the victim, the former proving their complete lack of involvement for all time, and the latter just how "controversial" the issue is; the practically instantaneous announcement of Welp, Another Lone Nut from the Wichita PD, which had to take place while they were still searching his belongings; and the 100% disinterest of the White House Press Corps, which, to be fair, did have an entire evening's worth of entertainment vouchers from the President's night out in New York to pore over. All accompanied by Archbishops, Slate columnists, and other professional prestidigitators lying about a public opinion poll to the effect that, well, you gotta admit, the Public clearly thinks he had it comin'.

And...curtain. End of Act one.

I haven't seen Will again, and I'm pretty sure those voices saying, "Hell, if George Tiller, MD, had just been a cute young blond girl the Teleprompter readers would be demanding to know why the WPD hadn't hauled in half the state for questioning" were, in fact, my own. And sure, I'm just a cockeyed optimist, but I believe that you can't close the books on such things with impunity any more, or pretend that these people aren't terrorists, or that the murder of a real live person is justified because somebody shouted "Murder" through a bullhorn somewhere. Just bear in mind that the days of dog-killing cops assaulting women are rapidly drawing to a close. It's a brave new world that has such people in it.

10 comments:

Uncle Omar said...

I hate to disagree, but Cream was the first SUPERGROUP. Jack Bruce on bass, Ginger Baker hammering on things, and Clapton doing weird stuff on guitar. They had two albums, I think, but broke up because Bruck and Baker hated one another. Or they wouldn't share their drugs. Or something.

Anonymous said...

Ya mean Jr Walkerʻs All Stars werent really one of an earlier generation of All-Star Ubergruppen?

BTW my favorite group name of that generation, Honolulu style, was Iva Kinimaka and the Fah Outs.

Aloha, Daddy-o,

Pookapooka

scott said...

Thank god somebody else has the same low opinion of Clapton as I do.

Brendan said...

What does it mean if an atheist says "Clapton is God?"

And you're write about this Murrikin: never heard of Family. Thanks for potentially broadening my horizons.

Great essay.

Brendan said...

Oh, and here's a little more abortion-related history, which maybe you already know, but I didn't. Turns out the fundies weren't initially opposed to Roe v. Wade, at least not in the hysterical way that they would have you believe they "always" have been.

henry lewis said...

Archie Andrews said 'groovy'.

My high school friends and I would too, but only in mockery.

Cuz' Archie Andrews said 'groovy'.

Blister said...

Lots of people said groovy. It had to be quick and dead flat, with no overtones of enthusiasm, or you could get in trouble, and the "oov" was sort of swallowed. A yeoman's word, a word of stout sobriety, in its day.

Didn't Al Kooper beat Blind Faith with "Super Sessions?" Of course the "Super Sessions" weren't particularly super, Mike Bloomfield on One side and Stephen Stills on the other, and Kooper on both, but the title should count for something.

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Laminatrix said...

Also do not think Clapton is a deity.

W/r/t supergroups, though, I'd like to propose that the Traveling Wilburys are an exception to the "supergroups suck" rule. They were a lot of fun.

(p.s. I"m usually Narya, but I don't feel like signing out and losing the comment and blah blah).

TM said...

Yep, that's probably what I would have done... and then I would have wondered (again) why I so easily take the bait.