Putting Nashville Together

Jere Baxter Middle School is right by Ben Allen Road. Jere Baxter was the brother of Edmund Baxter who married Sarah Perkins sister of Sue Perkins, wife of Ben Allen.

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You Know My Sick Fascination with ICP

Well, there’s this.

You can hear the single here, but I must warn you that I have found no place on the internet where you can unhear it. You may wonder what  an ICP/Jack White/Mozart/JEFF the Brotherhood collaboration would be like, but are afraid to listen. That’s fine. It’s about the joys of butt-licking, which, once you think about it, is about the only thing it could be.

My Problem with Christian Forgiveness

I used put a lot of stock in the word of people who I perceive as being good Christians. Not about taste things. If Coble told me that I needed to listen to this new Rush album because it’s awesome, it’s going to take a little bit of convincing. But about people. And I’m going to use Coble as an example because I do trust her assessment of people. If Coble said, “Oh, you need a new roof? This guy goes to my church and he’s great. You should call him up and see if you can afford him,” I would take that to heart. And if I learned that this roofer raped three women, I would expect Coble to be shocked and embarrassed. I would, in fact, expect her to be learning this terrible information from me, because I would not expect, no matter how wonderful the dude seemed now, for Coble to give her good name to recommending a person who might be a danger to me.

But lately I’ve noticed this disturbing trend where a person (A) is demonstrably a bad actor and obviously could pose some… danger might be too strong a word, but let’s say “problem”… this person could pose some problem for me. And the person (B) who is neglecting to warn me about the bad actor’s previous behavior is doing so because of Christian forgiveness.  See, B knows A has issues, perhaps even issues B has had to deal with, but B, for the sake of his religion, has forgiven A.

That, to me, is fine. Forgive away.

But the part I am becoming more and more uncomfortable with is that, while I agree that “forgiveness” in a Christian context should mean that the slate is wiped clean–person A is free to go forth and sin no more–I don’t think person B should withhold information that would cause me to feel cautious around person A, just because person B has forgiven A.

Again, let’s go back to the rape example. Maybe person A raped person B’s sister. Maybe even A went to prison and got religion and has turned his life around. Person B has forgiven A (and let’s assume this is with his sister’s blessing. She has also forgiven A, just for the sake of this example.) and now that person A is looking to get his life back on track, person B is going to recommend person A to me for some task or reason. Person B vouches for person A.

And I believe person B, not realizing that this is not a situation in which A is an actual good person, but in which B knows A could be dangerous but B is trusting A not to be.

I don’t want to be put downstream from that, you know?

But I don’t know what forgiveness looks like otherwise. I mean, I know forgiveness and forgetting aren’t the same thing. But it seems to me that, if you’re still bending your life away from the person who’s wronged you, then it’s not really forgiveness. But, on the other hand, does forgiveness have to come with endorsement?

I don’t know. I’m not sure I’ve actually ever felt honestly forgiven and I’m not sure I’d know how to openly and honestly forgive someone. (Which, again, may be another reason I left the church). But I do know that, if I forgave someone who wronged me and that made you trust that they were good and safe to be around and they hurt you, I would feel like part of that hurt was caused by me giving you the wrong impression of that person’s safety.

My Sue Allen Graveyard Adventure Ends Up Being a Tiny Bit Weird

I slipped out of work early and went back to Mt. Olivet and I walked Section 3 like it might harbor my own dead relatives. I found a family plot for some Overtons, who you remember married into Sue’s family. And there, maybe twenty steps away, was an Allen grave. But it had a bunch of names on it, none of them “Sue” and all too old to be our gal.

So, I was feeling pretty bummed and I thought, as a last ditch thing, I would go down to the office and ask if they had her father, Powhatan Perkins, so I could see if maybe she was in with him. If a car could drag its feet, I was dragging my car’s feet in disappointment. I really thought this Section 3 lead was promising. I get just past the big white mausoleum and I see a headstone for “Perkins.” Right smack dab in front of me. Right by the weird square thing the Professor had wanted to look at when we were there, but I pooh-poohed her. I thought, “nah.” It looked too new and what are the chances of me basically driving right up to it?

Slim and none. Even though I’d already weirdly driven right up to Ben’s grave. But what are the chances of me driving right up to two graves I wanted? That seems highly unlikely.

But there were Baxters, right in the front of the plot. I came around to the side and there was Metcalfe Perkins, Sue’s brother who died in the Civil War. I was shaking. This was the right family. Here were graves older than hers. And then I came up to the back side and there she was. Sue P. Allen. She’s next to her father, who is next to her mother, who is next to her other husband, who is next to the sister that lived with Sue.

It was weird and awesome. I may have fan-girled out just a little.

There she is. If the big white mausoleum weren’t in the way, you could see Ben’s grave off in the distance.

Susan Allen Weirdness

So, I called out to Mt. Olivet and… they do have one Susan Allen in the cemetery and it’s definitely an old grave, but they don’t have any information on who that Susan Allen might be. They gave me a section and a lot, so I’m going to check it out later. If that Susan Allen is buried in with Perkinses and Edmonsons (or Edminstons), then we’ll know it’s her.

If not… then the mysterious mystery of where Susan Allen, Nashville medium and, also, professional rich person is buried remains.

I Would Like to do this with my History Boyfriend, Timothy Demonbreun

Is Timothy Demonbreun a scrub? Even without answering these questions, I think we know the answer is yes. But still! Swoon.

Why we should sleep with Timothy Demonbreun:

1. Judging by his statue, he is handsome.

2. And he speaks French!

3. And thus literal French kisses!

4. Women kept having kids with him, so I’m thinking he’s pretty good in bed. Otherwise, you’d be all “Oh, your real wife isn’t dead? Maybe you should go home to her!” and then you’d throw shoes or bricks at him. Or you’d be all “I’m not dead and your fake wife is still having your babies?! Maybe you should go home to her.” and then you’d throw shoes or bricks at him. No woman killed Timothy Demonbreun and they, rightfully, should have. Therefore, he must have been pleasing them in the sack (and in the cooter, but that goes without saying). Don’t even argue with me.

5. Like Robert Johnson, there are three possible resting places for Timothy Demonbreun–out back of the furnace on Jefferson, in the city cemetery, and next to his fake wife out in Ashland City. That makes him mysterious.

Why we should not sleep with Timothy Demonbreun:

1. Yes, okay, fine. He’s dead. And no one even knows where his bones are.

2. He doesn’t mind living in a cave.

3. He’s a dog, with the cheating on his real wife with his fake wife and then cheating on his fake wife with his real one.

4. Long explorations of the middle of America with no showers.

5. He might randomly marry you off to some other French dude, which would not be fun.

But I feel like these are surmountable obstacles. And it’s not like any of us are going to marry Timothy Demonbreun. Hell, until we get gay marriage legalized, some of you can’t marry him. We just want to take him out into one of the hammocks, get a good wine drunk going on, and then see if he’s all that.

It seems reasonable. Is anyone here a medium? We have some dates to arrange.

Mike Turner, Personal Cheerleader?

Is it wrong that, when I heard this story, I started to wonder if Mike Turner would call me up randomly, I could tell him all of my obstacles and problems for the day, and he would growl, “Bring it on” in a manner that made me laugh and feel better?

Like he’d call and be all “What do you need inspiration for today, Betsy?”

And I’d say, “Mike, today, I just can’t bear hearing professional rich person, Ron Ramsey talk any more about elitists, as if he’s somehow just one of the common folks and I, with my book learning but still eating ramen noodles for dinner on occasion towards the end of the month, am supposed to be somehow an oppressive jackass who is holding professional rich person, Ron Ramsey down.”

And Turner could be all “Professional rich person, Ron Ramsey? Bring it on!”

And I’d be all “Yeah, bring it on, professional rich person!”

It’d be awesome.

Amazon is Not the Problem

Dean Dad today is blaming booksellers for the fact that you can’t resell your used e-textbooks. This is wrong. Most ebooks are already being sold as loss leaders. Think of it this way–printing, paper, and binding (the things that seem to make a book a book) count for usually less than $3 of an individual book’s final cost (unless you’re publishing a book of antique Spanish porn, color throughout. Then those costs will make you want to throw up every time you think of them). So, if all things were equal, an ebook would cost about $3 less than a “real” book.

But Amazon sells a shit-ton of ebooks for $9.99 or less and the corresponding print versions aren’t $12.99.

Amazon makes their money off of Kindles. If they could legally let students swap or sell ebooks to each other, even if Amazon made nothing off of those ebook sales, they would totally do that, because it would drive Kindle sales.

The sticking point is the publishers. And, sure, I have as little sympathy for the “Here’s your $150 textbook which we will make needless updates to every three years, thus ruining the used book market” as anyone else. But most universities don’t wholly subsidize university presses. In fact, I don’t know of any university press that doesn’t get any income from book sales.

Now, sure, if we’re switching to a model in which the important thing is the dissemination of ideas, great. Then it’s fine if 50 students share or resell one ebook to each other. That would weigh the same for the university as selling 50 books does in the “bottom line” model. Shoot, then, why would university presses sell books at all? They could just put everything up at Scribd and call it a day.

But university presses do have budgets they have to meet. And universities don’t seem likely to change that.

So, we are where we are.

David ‘Honeyboy’ Edwards is Dead

And just like that, all those people he knew–all 95, almost 96 years worth–go from being the friends and acquaintances of a living man to slipping just a little further away from us. Yesterday, you could shake hands with a man who shook hands with Robert Johnson. Today you cannot.

Here’s Alan Lomax recording him in ’42. I think it’s hard not to hear what will become Chicago blues in his playing.

For fun, listen to this song. I don’t know if it’s how they have him miked or just the strong contrast between the times he’s doing it and the times he’s not, but the way he’s sliding on those strings is revelatory. And there are a couple of times when I worry that the guitar may literally come apart in his hands.

This is a Real Poll at THE TENNESSEAN

It goes with this story about submissive Christian women, but the poll itself does not say “Should Christian women in politics be submissive?” or “Should women in some Christian sects that believe in wifely submission be submissive in their roles as politicians?” or anything resembling that.

Here’s the deal. If you, in your own marriage want to practice any form of wifely submission, as long as everyone consents and everyone is healthy and happy and safe, I don’t care. Submit away. As far as I’m concerned, if it’s not abusive, then it’s a religiously-based power-exchange kink. And I am all for kinks of all sorts, if they bring you pleasure. Go forth into the privacy of your own home and do as you like. Shoot, do it in public.

Just don’t rope me into it. I do not want to submit to anyone and I don’t want that to be an expectation put on me by my fellow Tennesseans who mistake their religiously-based power-exchange kink for how the world is. And it pisses me off that The Tennessean is not more nuanced about this.

And the story! The story starts, “For the Bible’s authors, it was pretty clear how marriage works. Men lead. Women follow.” The Bible also says that men should take multiple wives and fuck their concubines if the wives aren’t working out. Is The Tennessean going to report on that as a legitimate marriage model?

If I worked at The Tennessean, but were in all other ways myself, this poll would make me feel unwelcome, like I am not actually in the eyes of my employer a whole person, but merely a problem demographic whose behavior should be shaped by public opinion.

I respect that that’s not how women at The Tennessean claim to feel, but damn.

Yvonne Chireau’s BLACK MAGIC

I finished Black Magic and had a little freak-out because there was yet another book waiting for me at the library. I just took everything back. Even the book I had started. I will try again later and not get so many all at once.

I don’t know if this is fair of me, but I think this is a great book with huge problems. But there are a lot of academic books–shoot, some of which I’ve been involved in–that I thought, “This is the wedge into a subject.” It doesn’t have to be as nuanced or as thorough as what comes after. It just needs to get in there, describe some general shapes in accurate ways, and sit back and let others do the more minute explorations.

And, in that regard, I think Chireau succeeds. If you know nothing about conjure’s history, you are going to come away with a solid, solid foundation.

But I couldn’t help but feel not only what I felt yesterday, but also that there’s a lot more meat to pick at on the bone of “Urban, educated black people team with white do-gooders to rid poor, rural black people of their ‘superstitions’ during the late 1800s.” It’s not just a matter of assimilation and racial uplift. That’s just so self-apparent. And it’s not just the horror and tut-tutting on behalf of white missionaries at this “primitive” behavior, though there is that. It is also about trying to trade one kind of social order–in which the conjurers have a shit-ton of power–for another–in which the authorities are teachers and doctors and educated, urban people; people who are from outside of the community.

That, I think, is a way to get at why conjure flourished (and still does flourish) in urban areas. Is it a matter of people saying “I’m not going to give up what works for me?” or “I like a community that functions in ways I’m familiar with” or “I still need a lot of help navigating forces and people much more powerful than me” or what?

Chireau does a great, great job of showing how conjure functioned during the time of slavery as a counterweight, and sometimes a very effective counterweight, to the all-encompassing authority of the slave owner, that conjure was so threatening because it was a way for people who weren’t even legally people to fight back, to have some power over their own lives, which, of course, were not their own.

I would have liked to know if Chireau thinks that it still functions like this after emancipation, even in urban settings. I think it does. But that’s just my gut, you know? I mean, it seems to me that asking people to trust in institutions like the church and universities and governments that require “proper” behavior might have seemed like just swapping out causes of problems, not solving problems, you know?

Anyway, it’s really great. Lots of good stuff in there.

Some Brief True Blood Thoughts

1. No, absolutely not. I refuse to accept that Eric would not be grossed out that Sookie was rutting around with him only when he was completely infantalized and neutered.

2. I think Jesus is hot. There, I said it.

3. I did not see the Marnie thing coming.

4. I kept waiting for Tommy to be bullshitting about dying. I guess they have made me believe he’s that big a fucker.

In other news, there’s so much I don’t understand about Lady GaGa and I just try to keep in mind that her audience is younger than me. But I just want her to be a little more astute, all of the time. Tonight, though, I caught her performance at the VMAs and I felt like I was finally seeing what the big deal is. And she was… oh god… so very hot. Like I said on Twitter, it’s as if Elvis and Bruce Springsteen had a baby with Elton John.

I had to roll my eyes at all the “Uh, I didn’t know what to make of that” bullshit, though. Really, room full of music stars? We’re supposed to believe in your decadent lifestyles, let you sell them to us, but you can’t handle a little cross dressing? How embarrassing for you.

Edited to add: Can we please have more of THIS Tara, though? The one who’s planning and doing?

Out to Hermitage and Back to the Allens

The dog and I both loved Hermitage Park. It’s really, really nice. They even have a cool walkway. I took 70 back downtown which meant I went right back by Mt. Olivet, so I stopped to see if I had just not noticed Sue in there or what. I still didn’t find Sue, but I’m calling over there tomorrow to see if she’s on their interment records. I have a feeling she’s either in there and unmarked or in there and her headstone is under the toppled monument.

The reasons I believe she’s probably there are as follows. 1.) Her husband is there. 2.) She’s not in the graveyard at Edminston place. 3.) (Most important to me) 3.) I can tell by the other people in the plot that she never lost the plot as an asset and that it passed to her family when she died. Nancy Baxter, wife of R.L. Overton, was the daughter of Sue’s sister, Eliza. The Perkins B. Overton in the plot is Nancy’s son. Mary Perkins is not the wife of Nancy’s husband, but I believe of Nancy’s son Robert L. Overton. Otherwise, there’s some very brief bigamy there. I can’t see how Ewin Baxter Thomas figures in, but Ewin (Ewing) and Baxter are obviously family names on Sue’s side. I suspect Mary Perkins may be a cousin of some sort as well. If it was being used after she died, it was probably used when she died. 4.) There are gravestones under the monument.

More on Sue Allen

I had thought my next project might be about The Thing, but I have to be honest with you, I just can’t stop thinking about Sue. I dream about her inviting Jack Macon’s widow to her house, causing a minor scandal (not that Jack Macon had a widow that I know of). I think about her becoming a widow so young. According to Margaret Lindsley Warden, Sue was a Perkins, one of Powhatan Perkins’s children. Powhatan was an Edminston (of the Edmonson Pike Edminstons–same family, slightly different names due to a minor family feud about someone’s asshole behavior. Ha, if I changed my name slightly every time a Phillips did something assholish, I’d be Betsy Ppphhiiilllllippppsssss by now.) on his mom’s side. Powhatan died young. His wife went on to marry a Ewing, and have even more kids with him. He also brought children into the marriage. But then he must have died because Sue’s mom and a half sister come to live with her and Ben.). Sue married, according to Warden, a Thomas Hays who died fighting for the Confederacy. I am fairly certain I have Sue’s birth year correct–1848–which means that, with a window of “She must be able to be the widow of a Confederate who died during the Civil War,” even if she waited until the last possible second to get married and he waited until the last possible second to die, the oldest she could have been when she got married was 17.

I haven’t been able to find him dead yet, but Sue’s brother Metcalf died in May of ’64, in some dust-up in Georgia that’s considered–even in that Georgia town, and you know how much Southern towns like to elevate a few ugly words into the “Battle of Wherever”–to barely have counted as fighting between two major battles. And, of course, by December of ’64, there was the Battle of Nashville. I think there’s a chance Metcalf and Thomas shared a similar military path (I wouldn’t be surprised to find Thomas also under Hood) and, if so, I think it’s likely that, by the end of ’64, he was dead.

Which would make Sue a widow by 16.

Since I haven’t found record of when Thomas mustered in (you’ll be unsurprised to learn that “Thomas Hays” was a pretty common name), I don’t have a good guess for when they were married, but I think she was probably about 14. That would be a similar arc to what her older sister Eliza did, born in ’44 and had her first kid in ’61. But when you think that Sue’s step-father brought five kids into the marriage and Sue’s mom had four living Perkins kids, it makes sense to start marrying off the girls into prominent Nashville families as soon as possible, just to make room in the house for the children to come.

Anyway, so there’s Sue, wandering around a widow from about 1864 until she finally marries Ben in 1883. And she never does have kids.

Really, in some ways, the fact that she was a medium is the least curious thing about her. Almost twenty years a widow. What did she do with herself? I suspect she helped raise the youngest Ewings with her mother but I don’t see her in the censuses, so who knows? I almost don’t want to know, because my mind churns.

I’m in the middle of Black Magic which is going quickly, so I’ll have some more thoughts. Parts of it are a little “Ugh, come on!” like when she finds enslaved people using terms like “old hag” or “hex” and doesn’t identify them as borrowings from European traditions. And I want there to be more about how borrowings or even the lies about borrowing from Native Americans functioned. But I am loving it. I think it’s one of the most astute books about how magical traditions among black people and magical traditions among white people fed and feed off each other, with there just being a shit-ton of cross-pollination, while still being recognizably distinct because of some major differences in similar world-views.

I do think there’s work to be done here, though. I mean, it’s one thing to say that slaves regarded The Long-lost Friend or The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses as indispensable for magic, if one could read. But how did they get into slaves’ hands in the first place? The Long-lost Friend is also known as Pow-wows, or The Long Lost Friend, and it was originally published in German. This suggests that it was literally a text used by German-American Pow-wows (or Pow-wow Doctors). That’s a magical tradition you find by locating Mennonites and then asking around. I’m not saying only Mennonites are pow-wows, but there’s a lot of overlap.

And Mennonites were anti-slavery. So, if slaves were using Pennsylvania Dutch magical texts, it wasn’t because the few exceptions to the “We don’t own slaves” rules were powerful pow-wows who managed to put books into the hands of the right conjurors. The cultural exchange had to be happening some other way. I don’t know how, but it seems like there’s room for exploration there.

The other thing that the author does, which I have seen done pretty regularly and probably done it myself, if I went back and looked, is assume that hoodoo and conjure in the 19th century were blossoming among black people just as white people were like “We’re all rational and shit now.” But no, white people were like “We’re all Spiritualists now! We talk to dead people!” And there were black Spiritualists. And we can trace some of this “I talk for dead people” stuff back to the Methodists in the early part of the 19th century and many of those services and camp meetings were integrated.

Lots of possibilities for “Here’s how we go into a trace” “Oh, cool, we do that, but like this” cultural exchange there.

But let me be clear that I’m only picking nits because it’s so good and it has me thinking. I’m really engaged with her ideas and I hope other folks will pick up on her line of thinking and clarify some of the bigger things her research seems to suggest (or fuck, sure, she could do that, as well).

Who Doesn’t Need a Hardboiled Shaman?

I can’t remember where I learned about Muktuk Wolfsbreath, but I did and I read it and it blew my mind. And so I am passing it on to you. I guess it should go without saying that, since it is the story of a hardboiled shaman, there are some disturbing elements, but I’m going to say it anyway–something happens in here that is so spot on about what “sacrifice” means that I’m still like “everyone should read this! No! No one with a heart should read this!”

So, if you don’t have a heart, don’t hesitate. If you do have a heart, hesitate, but still check it out.

Things I Learned Today

1. Cleaning out the garage is a huge task with only one garbage can. Seriously, I’m betting half the stuff in there can just be tossed and yet, we have no place to toss it. I got about a quarter done.

2. I still don’t know where Sue Allen is buried. It’s weird she’s not by her husband, isn’t it? I kind of wonder if she IS by her husband, but they couldn’t afford a headstone. Maybe I need to call over to Mt. Olivet and just ask. Otherwise, I have to find a way to see if and what her obit says.

3. Sue inherited Edminston Place, which stood on Franklin Road. The cemetery survey has what is/was on the gravestones in that cemetery. The “In memory of my grandmother & grandfather” business makes me wonder if she didn’t put up the gravestones. I’ve been along Hill Road. I don’t recall a cemetery.

4. My brother got a job! That’s all three siblings employed. Whew. Fuck this economy, you know?

5. It bothers me that Sue Allen is missing. I mean, at least the Masons remember ole Ben. But Sue Allen who pulled a “Thing” from the netherworld and let it chase lawyers through the streets of Nashville? Who puts flowers on her grave?

Rolling

Well, I had an exciting trip to the endocrinologist this afternoon. Had to get stuck in both arms and even then, my “good” veins rolled on them. To get any blood at all, it took two of them and they had to hold the vials way out from my arm. It was weird. And somewhat painful.

But it was fine. They worked me in early and I was there for no longer than twenty minutes. I didn’t even get to read my book. And before that, nm and I went to the new Judge Bean’s on Church and daydreamed a little about my ascent to New York Times Bestseller-dom. Ha. No, but we did talk about how nice it is to feel like you might, just might do something you enjoy well.

And now I’m done wearing a bra for the day!

Victory is mine!

Non-Bloggy Things

One of the things about blogging, at least blogging how I do, is that I imagine I’m holding court at one of the world’s most interesting bars. Regulars stop by. We have good discussions. We feel like we know each other.

And yet, I know there are ways in which I’m like “Here are all the wonderful open rooms you’re going to regularly visit” just so that I can keep certain rooms closed off, just never mention them, or, like, in the case of “Frank” or “The Witch’s Friend” mention them but tease you with waiting.

But then, some doors are closed just because they’re not my doors to open, you know? It’s happening in my world, but it’s not something it’s my business to be the host of.

In ways, this has been a week of closed doors. At least “Frank” will eventually open and y’all will see why I’m so thrilled and excited. But those other doors stay shut, even if what’s behind them weighs on my mind.

Why even bring it up, then? I’m not sure. Just, I guess, to say that it’s a weird part of this particular medium. People criticize it because folks share what they had for breakfast or, in my case, how my walks with the dog go. It does seem like the levels of sharing you can do are boundless.

And yet, here is a boundary. It feels right to mark it, you know. And make some gesture to the folks on the other side of it, who are in my thoughts.

When Do You Give Up on a Well-Written, Terrible Book?

I just finished Centuries of June which I had to force myself to read, so I am embarrassed to tell you that not only did I finish it, it sucked clear through to the end. I don’t know if I thought that the ending was going to be so much more amazing than everything that had come before that it would make the rest of the book look good in retrospect or if it would turn out to be a giant metaphor for America or… I don’t know. Something.

But no. Here’s the whole plot of the book. Man makes women suffer. Every one of them, except one, is basically good and decent and he dicks them over, but sometimes not even in ways that really appear to be his fault. And yet, in the context of the book, we’re certainly supposed to understand him as being at fault. So, on they go to their having-been-dicked-over-by-him-ness and he flits from one woman to the next.

And then at the end, he’s the one who gets comforted and enlightened.

So, yes, read about a lot of women having sad lives and sometimes dying, just so that the narrator can be comforted and enlightened.

Keith Donohue is a really good writer, though, so it’s hard to believe, with as good as the prose is, that the book sucks as much as it does. I just kept thinking, well, maybe after this next part… And the women are really memorable, but ugh. It’s just one bit of despair after another with not real outlet for grief.

So, even though it was obvious that it was just going to be one shitty life after another for the women, I kept reading, lured on by the beautiful writing, figuring there had to be some amazing pay off.

There is not.

Why did I keep reading? Because I am an idiot.

The CD Should Come with a Minivan

Beth sent me a link to this article, because she thought it was relevant, at least tangentially, to our ongoing discussions about list songs and authenticity. The whole post is good, but I’ve been mulling over this:

But it’s wrapped up in so much ass-kissing right wing family values bullshit that there’s a wall through which the music doesn’t penetrate, it lives in its own ghetto, happy as a pig in shit, but it could be so much more.

And this nags at me. Not because I think it’s wrong, but because it’s right except for the “happy as a pig in shit” part. Now, obviously, I’m not in the music industry, but I live here and I know folks and one of the things that strikes me is that a lot of folks in it have at least a little chip on their shoulder. I know it happened years ago, but I just keep thinking of that Raul Malo show over at BMI and standing there in a room full of industry bigwigs, some industry bigwig introducing Malo, going on about how here was real country music, music they won’t let folks listen to any more or some such posturing bullshit. And everyone clapped and cheered, as if they were the horse and not the people holding the reigns.

I believe country music culture is more conservative than most of American culture, sure. But so much more conservative? No.

The weird thing is that a lot of folks in the music industry walk around imagining the most fuckerly yahoo there could be and then trying to pander to him, while at the same time keeping the attention of the women-folk. I think that’s one of the reasons Toby Keith, Trace Adkins, and John Rich have the success they’ve had. They are fuckerly yahoos. They’re not imagining some made-up listener. They’re performing songs that appeal to themselves. And so their music, in a sea of songs that only imagine the fuckerly yahoo as its primary market, sounds authentic.

Ha, lord knows Toby Keith makes me shake my head about every other day, but I’m suddenly struck by the idea that country music could be improved 100% if everyone in the music industry asked two questions–“Would Toby Keith like this?” and “Would we worry about leaving this artist at a bar next to Toby Keith for fear Keith would beat him up after a few beers?”

I don’t think every song needs to be a song Toby Keith might like, but, if Keith would like it, it is important that Keith not want to punch the singer. And, I must say, I don’t think many of these list kids could pass the second test.

Note, also, that you couldn’t use Adkins for this because dude has such terrible luck that he’d probably fall under a tractor trying to punch the kid. And then we’d all be like “How did that tractor get into this bar anyway?” but it would be too late, because Adkins would be under it. And Rich? Who the hell hasn’t he punched? Or thought about punching? He’s too quick on the punching draw to be useful.

I think we have to imagine a world where Hank Williams Jr. and Toby Keith go around saving country music from itself. Miranda Lambert could be Batgirl.

Coming Together

I just saw sample pages of the antique Spanish porn project I have been working on for approximately 1,000 years. Yes, I swear to god, much of this project was just sitting around waiting for Spanish porn to reach its heyday and then waiting for enough time to pass for it to be in the past.

I think I told you, my favorite thing is how cheerful everyone is. No one’s making the porn face. Everyone’s just like “Oh, how delightful and pleasant!”

I really wonder if people will find the pictures erotic or if the grins don’t quite translate across the years into “sexy.”

Anyway, I’m glad that’s going to be soon enough finally done.

The New Kitty Says, “No.”

People, here’s the thing about cats. You could be having the greatest day. I mean, you’re sitting in a comfy chair eating ice cream, watching Brat Pitt and Johnny Depp hose each other off in your shower. Wood nymphs are prancing through your house making everything smell like lilacs. Libertarians are lined up to scrub your tub. And Hollywood is on the phone, wanting movie rights to your story about a zombie.

And your cat is still going to try to scratch your boob off.

Why?

Who the fuck knows? Because cats are put on this earth to remind you that, no matter how special you are, how awesome your day, the universe is mostly indifferent to your suffering.

And believe me, a cat trying to tear your boob off with its claws is only slightly, very slightly less painful than having the other cat dangling from your boob by one claw.

Anyway, what is the lesson here? What can we discern from the torn, bloodstained shirt, the three puncture wounds in the cleavage, the bright red line along the thumb?

The lesson is thus: Wait for the damn Butcher to get home to try to subject your cat to any hydrotherapy. Yes, one person can do it. No, not safely.

In other animal-related news, the dog is acting completely squirrelly. Tried to get in  bed with me this morning. Convinced the Butcher to let her outside before dawn. And then has gone back to bed and is snoring like it’s going out of style. If we have an earthquake today, I would not be surprised.

Oh, right, but what I wanted to say is that, on our walk today, I saw one crow, flying very slowly from the big tree by the road to the tree in the middle of the AT&T yard. Big crow. Silently slipping through the air. And then, once it got to its destination, a small crow followed.

It made me wonder how much care crows take of their young. I know they live in big family units, but I swear, this seemed like the bigger crow was showing the littler crow something. I don’t know if it was about how to land or which trees they roosted in or what, but something. Like I was seeing a lesson for the little crow.

Blew my mind.