“The Weight”/”In My Hour of Darkness”

The thing that surprises me upon actually listening to “In My Hour of Darkness” is that Parsons says “In my hour of darkness/ in my time of need/ Oh lord, grant me vision/ Oh lord, grant me speed.”  My whole life I’ve been singing it “Oh lord, grant me wisdom/ Oh lord, grant me peace.”

I guess it just goes to show you that folks need different things, even when they’re in the same place.

Anyway, there’s nothing about Gram Parsons I could tell you that you don’t already know.  I think of him and The Band together, though, being folks who seemed to get that there’s something powerful in that old vernacular American sound and who hoped that, by reenacting it, they could call it forth and maybe name it.

I am convinced that you can’t.  You can feel it around you in the air, move with it through your body, but that old American power isn’t something that can be named.

I think that’s why I like to listen to Parsons coupled with Aretha Franklin’s version of “The Weight.”  One song sounds like an attempt (a pretty successful attempt) to hitchhike into the past.  The other sounds like it’s sung by a woman who picked up those hitchhikers, learned one of their songs, and set it free in Detroit.

Both sound like hymns to me.  But one is reverent and the other jubilant.

Who knows?  Some days I feel like I’m great at tugging the things that connect us.  Today’s just not that day.  Instead, I want to loop one end of this here rope to one song and the other end to the other and just walk back and forth between them.

Sadly, my balance is not that great.

I’m tired, soul tired.  And I don’t know how you rest your soul.  But mine needs a nap and some ice cream and something artsy to soothe it.

All Brown People are the Same; All Brown People are Potential Terrorists

I’ll just say up-front that I’m not always willing to go all the way with Brownfemipower.  I read her posts and I’m nodding along and, inevitably, there comes a point where I say, “Yep, here’s where I get off.  I was willing to follow you to this point, but now we must part ways.”

So, in the post I’m about to point you to, I’ll just say that it’s right about where she starts talking about how immigrants who want to find a way to stay in the country legally are not critical of just what they’re trying to assimilate into–that’s where I’m not sure I can go with her.

I want to say that upfront because I don’t want us to get distracted by it.

Often, I think, when we read radical thinkers, we search for that place where our path diverges from theirs and we argue over the split.  Why have they gone that way when I want to go this way?

That kind of thinking is useful for situating yourself in your own mind.

It is utterly useless when actually reading and considering radical thinkers’ points and discussing them.  I’m not interested in where we all think radicals have gone wrong.

I’m interested in what they can show us about the parts of the journey we are on together.

And America, that’swhat I think Brownfemipower is so brilliant about.

Watch this.

Almost nobody recognized or talked about the reason why these organizations gained such instant popularity. In a post 9-11 world, they had both taken the time to restructure their campaigns significantly–choosing to focus on the “desperate” situation at the border. The “desperate” situation being, of course, that thousands of Mexicans were crossing through unprotected parts of the border every year–thousands of Mexicans that could really be terrorists. The false desperation of the war on terror leaked into the border, creating a false desperation on the border that has justified everything from increased violence by border patrol agentsagainst border crossers and the building of our own wall.

You think she’s full of shit?

Look at this, talking about making it illegal to transport undocumented immigrants across the Tennessee state line:

An amendment filed by Rep. Rob Briley, D-Nashville, may exclude some people who are transporting immigrants for religious purposes as a defense. Briley said a number of religious denominations participate in missionary work that might be prosecutable under the proposed law.

Rep. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, said he thought that was a bad idea.

“Just curious, isn’t a jihad considered a religious purpose in some religions?” he asked, referring to the Arabic term used by some extremist Muslim and terrorist groups for “holy war.”

Do you see it?  Do you see how right Brownfemipower is?  My god, it makes me about have to take to my fainting couch in a swoon of “Holy shit.”

We’re not talking academics here.  This is no theoretical linking of Mexicans to terrorists, no university mumbo-jumbo.

This is a real line that folks like Campfield are drawing and folks like Brownfemipower are trying to draw our attention to.

Folks are literally conflating the “war on terror” with our immigration problem; conflating a bunch of Mexicans (and other Latin American folks) who come here to work and keep our country running with terrorists who want to kill folks.

Ha, and well there you go.  Just the other day Mack was all like “What purpose does it serve to continually bring up the very few illegal immigrants who drive drunk and kill people when talking about the immigration debate?”

Here’s the answer.  If we’re going to conflate Mexicans with terrorists, it’s made easier if we can lump them all together in the category of “Folks who come here and kill us.”

May Days

I didn’t say anything about Walpurgis night, but as far as creepy days in which the veil between the living and the dead is as thin as it can be, the evening before May 1st is topped only by the evening before November 1st.

It occurs to me now that I know a shit ton of people who were born in October–all of the Plimco sisters, Dr. J’s husband, the Butcher, among others.  That makes sense to me.  The veil is thin, come on through.

If the veil is still thin, but thickening up in May, that would also explain all of the crossings in my life this month.  I was born, two of my uncle B.s were born, the Other Reverend was born, Coble was born, my grandpa died, and my beloved Uncle B. died.

I don’t think I get any weirder in May than I usually am, but if I do, that’s probably why.

I Missed Blog Against Disablism Day

Which is okay, because I don’t really have anything coherently political to say about it.

This is what I want to say.  My beloved Uncle B. was on crutches or riding around on some kind of motorized scooter my whole life.  He was also the kind of man who could take you to the edge of a Civil War battlefield and point out to you which regiments crouched behind which rises. 

And he often wanted to get to those rises and see from that perspective and he rarely could.

When I went to Fort Negley for the first time, it was really all I could do to not cry.  The paths are wide and not too steep.  The interpretive materials are put at levels so that people at all heights can read them.  Once you get into the fort, there are wide wooden walkways one can get a scooter on.

I’m not saying that the whole thing is perfectly and easily accessible.  There’s some rough terrain up in the fort itself.

But it’s navigable.

My Uncle B. could have gotten up in there.

It’s such a small thing, making paths wide enough and the rises not too steep, but it matters.