"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Jan 26, 2012


I'm not grateful for new employment. The money is terrible, but it's nice to be doing something, and to have a little extra for, I dunno, groceries. There's only so many times you can feed two growing children pasta or chicken thighs before you find yourself face down in a muddy pool of teenaged rebellion. Not that I'm against teenaged rebellion. I just prefer it directed...elsewhere.

The grocery money is nice, all things being equal, which they are not. But I'm far too old to have any gratitude for work, or for being directed around the stock room by a child. Work blows hot dog chunks. Orange-pink flecked half digested kibbles of mechanically separated trademarked meat substance.

Even more especially when what's playing on the overhead is country music. I'm not suggesting to you, by way of vicarious memory, the dulcet melancholy of a blue grass which gets low to the ground and stays there, or the dusty and dirty back shack moonshine fiddling of Appalachia and the bayou. I mean what was coming out of the speakers, all fucking day, was New Country.

If you want a reliable formula for cracking the code of New Country, I'll give it to you.

Aaah, that's a lie. I'm going to type it whether you want it or not. So...

Start with today's date. Dial your mental clock and calendar back twenty years. Try to recall whatever was topping the charts as mainstream pop-rock those long, lost twenty years ago. Remove any bass lines which groove. Add a steel guitar. Stir in one or more white people willing to confuse nasal warbling for singing, and have them improvise a "story" based in dialogue written by George Lucas or Michael Bay.

New Country.

And I could almost ignore it, by hour three, except that it seemed like every twenty damned minutes the station was airing this nasty little gem:

I'm not surprised the god goons of NHforMarriage and the NOFM finished up their moral figuring and settled on a New Country station as the best outlet for the melted butter bigotry of, ahem, compromise. And I'm probably the second or third last person who thinks that a law is the way to keep Teh Gays from being discriminated against, or from being married in the naves of Christ-moldy church-holes.

But fucking aye, you'd think the shitclowns at NHforMarriage - and in all their brother organizations - would have kenned by now that pretty much the only people in New England who give a fuck about the cohabitating and vow-making of homosexuals are the kind of people who also think it's a good gods-be-damned idea to drop tonnage on Iran and send das troops into Syria.

If you're looking for what degrades or corrupts the, heh, marriage bond, you ain't ever going to find it the affections and affectations of homosexuals. But, you will find a whole lot of sundered wedded union in the wake of deployment, military industrial centralization and the austerity which follows war upon war. That shit is disruptive. The gays, not so much.

Not that any of it matters. The same fucking lackwits who can reconcile their affirmations with endless war, and who can even come to believe in it, are certainly capable of scapegoating dykes and queers for their own broken marriages.

Still, by the sixth or seventh time I'd heard it, I wanted to crawl up into the rafters and shake loose the speakers. There's only so much ign'ant a person should allow through the sensory filters on any given day. And then you just got to go find a motherfucker what needs some punching...


fish said...

I learned early on that a short route to madness at work was any kind of background music on continual loop. Better to have silence than have to listen to the same #$%^& Garth song 20 times a day.

Solar Hero said...

When I learned my hatred of Country, new or old, was a class affectation it transformed everything. Some people (I believe a sizable minority) really like hearing the same songs over and over again, and they want it sung by someone like them. There is a huge market for such things.

anne said...

are there any better ear plugs around these days ? .. . and if questioned you can say that you are too easily distracted / this is why i work from home in part .. of too easily distracted ..

Unknown said...

What do you get when you play a “country western” song backwards? Ya gits yer dawg back, yer truck back, and yer Woman backs.

Being a musician I try not to crap on other people’s taste in music but if there is one thing I cannot stand its “country western”, and line dancing, and that whole scene. I mean, jesuS Kee-riste. So I can certainly understand your grumbling over your working environment. Still, I’m glad you got some bread coming in.

I didn’t read Oblabmmers SOTU except for the first paragraph after which I had to puke in ye olde barf bucket, take three showers, and wipe myself down with Clorox bleach just to get the smell and the stench off from reading said paragraph but I understand Oblumper filled the rest with praise for the military and what a fine job they is doin’ a-chopping up the heathens. I now feel I have lived far too long in this hell hole we calls Uhmerricuh filled with the shit for brains ignoramuses that blight this land from the country western ilk to the rich white liberals that benefit from the slave labor abroad and the military complex and all the rest while they sing the praises of a slimy mass murderer who they will vote for no matter what he does.

In the end country western is anti-syncopation. If they played a note on the upbeat they would turn purple, then green, then red, swell up to the size of a blimp, and then explode into a spray of red ichor and gore. That’s the secret of country western.

I rest my case.

Great post, Jack. I needed that.

anne said...

rob, you're someone that might know , are there any good ear plugs out there , ones that ..keep the out from getting in .. but also don't crawl about in your ear .. ?

Unknown said...

Hi anne,

Absolutery, if you go to a pharmacy and look for ear plugs they should have them there. perhaps the type for swimmers or wearing in a shower.I hope you are doing well these days.

anne said...

those are okay for you ? i've tried most of those from the pharma types .. not quite right in some ways ,no matter how much i play with them .. / it's funny that you commented right after me here at first .. because as i was thinking about the at office and ear plugs in reading pen jack's post here .. i thought of you , my uncle roderick only likes jazz mostly , so in the last years of his time at the globe and mail here he would go around with ear plugs to any other sounds ,he is retired now ..but when we go out to films together he brings his plugs for the noise level when we get in to the theatre .. ,he has something that he made himself .. i'll look at them again when we are out , i mostly don't need them here ..as i said i work from home ..

Unknown said...

That’s a great story regarding your uncle, Anne. Jazz is my favorite but I still enjoy some other types of music as well but I do like the story of the ear plugs, too much. Yeah, the ear plugs aren’t perfect that’s for sure but they work though I wouldn’t want to wear them for long periods of time. There are some that are soft and malleable that have a similar consistency to clay or dough. There are also head phones that the makers claim reduce all sound though in the end I would imagine all these things would be uncomfortable after a while. I haven’t been to a movie theatre in a while, the last time I went the volume level was completely absurd, just way too loud which I fail to see the need for plus I don’t want to go deaf.

anne said...

i like what pen jack calls the ".. grass which gets low to the ground and stays there, or the dusty and dirty back .. . fiddling of Appalachia and the bayou. " .. to a ..something of my humming,baroque ..of in song ./ and i love the larger screen .. of films ,for the landscaping ...(don't you miss that ? ) so i have a pass to an old theatre up the road that i use quite a bit , the sound is not over done there ,but when i go across to meet roderick for a film ..it's just the clips at the start that are too loud , the films are always fine ..he removes the plugs then, the funny part is more why he wore them at the globe, but it is too much of a telling for here..

Randal Graves said...

We've got both kinds of music, country *and* western.

Richard said...

New Country is not Country, at least not in the Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn sense that I grew up with.

Instead, it's just another form of machismo pop music, like metal and hard rock.

zencomix said...

Have you tried introducing them to Old Country/Bluegrass?
KGNU in Colorado has a couple of great shows, Honky Tonk Hereos and Old Grass Gnu Grass, on Saturday mornings from 6 until Noon, Mountain time.

Jack Crow said...

I think it's curious that this has been a comment thread about the country music. It's funny how music can gloss over and seem to remedy our ills.

zencomix said...

Being down so far you're working a crappy job just to have grocery money might not be something you can fix, at least right now. Improving the quality of the music you have to listen to all day long at the crappy job might be something you can fix right now.

antonello said...

I once worked at a job where the management decided to play an "Easy Listening" station. (What sadist first labeled Muzak easy listening? It's deathly: music that has been slaughtered, gutted, stuffed and mounted.)

Although employees had virtually no say in how things were run, the reaction against the Muzak was so strong that it startled the powers-that-were. The dialogue that followed could be represented like this:

Management: We've decided to play this music because studies have shown that it has a beneficial effect in the work environment.
Employees: We hate it.
Management: Are you sure? The studies say-
Employees: We're sure. We hate it.
Management: Yes, well, perhaps we can work out a compromise. We'll play it in the hallways and bathrooms. You'll only be in those areas for minutes at a time.
Employees: Why play it at all? We hate it.
Management: But the studies say...

And so, from that point on, you would only have to hear Little Green Apples, Seasons in the Sun or McArthur Park for a few ghastly moments a day. The job was still hell, but the devils were no longer mocking us with "the mellow magic of a thousand silken strings," or whatever it was that the station liked to call it.

Richard said...

I'd would have said something about the conditions of the job itself, except that you pretty much said it. There is one thing, though. People can assume a role to get through the workday, one that is different than who they really are. You might be surprised if you spent time with them on their days off.

anne said...

to this person richard here, ..isn't this about .. of our comments to his post .. making pen jack's time at work less painful ,.. not about making friends while away .. .

Jack Crow said...

I have no preference for how the conversation turns, but the set-up with New Country was a preface to ad regarding repealing gay marriage in NH. That's what really bothered me.

I don't care about the law, one way or the other, but that shit is just sour grapes nastiness.

As for "class affectation," though, I quite enjoy bluegrass, folk country, western and cajun country. New Country is just pop-rock from twenty years ago.

JTG said...

"If you're looking for what degrades or corrupts the, heh, marriage bond, you ain't ever going to find it the affections and affectations of homosexuals. But, you will find a whole lot of sundered wedded union in the wake of deployment, military industrial centralization and the austerity which follows war upon war. That shit is disruptive. The gays, not so much."

Well said.

And I also agree that New Country is awful.

antonello said...

Does your country station play Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue"? It sounds as if they might. I'm sure you'd remember if they did:

Hey, Uncle Sam put your name at the top of his list,
And the Statue of Liberty started shaking her fist.
And the eagle will fly,
And there's gonna be Hell,
When you hear Mother Freedom start ringing her bell!
It's gonna feel like the whole wide world is raining down on you.
Brought to you courtesy of the Red, White and Blue!

Enthralling, no? Which hand, though, is Lady Liberty using to make a fist? The one with the tablet or the one with the torch? Wouldn't want her to drop the tablet: we wouldn't have any more law! If she dropped the torch, she might start a conflagration. Never mind: I just answered my question.

Richard said...

my point about people being different outside the workplace is that the social tone of the workplace can be set by a certain group and then everyone else goes along

so, the homophobia may be shared by most people there or maybe not

and, perhaps, some have been engaged on it, and others not

drawing conclusions about what people actually believe based upon how they conduct themselves in the workplace, which is inherently coercive, is a challenging endeavor

antonello said...

Jack: I'm glad you're not grateful for your new job. Few things are more depressing than the way we console themselves for being in some lousy situation. We're lucky, we say; it could be even worse. Gives a new definition to the word "lucky," which then means "not quite as unendurably loathsome as it could have been." He was held up? Wow, he was lucky; he could have gotten hurt. So where, in the matter of his luck, does the robbery fit in? What does it say for our view of the world that we're willing to speak like that?

It goes beyond mere denial: it's an attempt to work out a justice in our miseries. It's as if we would be willing to sacrifice anything, even ourselves and our loved ones, so long as we can imagine our lives to be just.

It hardly counts as a paradox, I suppose, that the people most inclined to tell us "Life is unfair" are the ones who are doing their bit to make it even more so. Sometimes the powerful play on our hope; at other times they play on our despair. Either tactic will do. Many of our hopes are despairs rather badly disguised.

Jack Crow said...


That should be a post of its own. Really.

Chuck Butcher said...

congratulations on the grocery money anyhow...