Sunday, January 29, 2012

Random Notes, End of January

As the first month of the new year draws to a a close:
1) For whatever reason, there is not the open gym softball school on Sundays that there has been for the last several years in Binghamton--it drew a lot of kids, making it a major investment of time and effort, and maybe Dale Cook got tired of doing it. But yesterday, the JV coach started with a smaller scale open gym at East Middle, which drew a fair number of kids of varying skill levels. I'm always interested to see how Sabrina stacks up against her peers, and yesterday she might well have been the most skilled kid there--there was a girl she's friends with there that's on the basketball team that's pretty good, but no one really has her total package. Given that she plays the most difficult and important individual position and plays it well, I've never been worried about her chances of making the team this year--but after not having picked up a bat and ball for months, I was pleased to see there was no rust at all, that she hasn't lost a thing. Her coordination has gotten even better in the intervening time, and she is totally comfortable with her hitting mechanics. I really can't wait, for her sake, for the spring.
2) About six weeks ago, I noticed that there was a new radio station on the air here, 104.5 "The Drive," that actually played songs that I liked--a lot of what used to be called "alternative", but also some newer songs that aren't metal and aren't pop and aren't rap. And I have to say that I am totally enraptured by actually having a radio station I like again--it's been years since I didn't have to put in a CD when I was driving. They will even play stuff that makes the air on pop stations on occasion--Adele most prominently, but also Foster the People and Celo Green are in the frequent play mix-- but for the most part, they play bands that I liked in the mid and late 90's and early aughts, and newer songs and bands that would never get played in a million years by the mainstream stations here. This was the play list one recent afternoon:
Kids, MGMT
Uprising, Muse
Creep, Radiohead
Paradise, Coldplay
Rain Man, Counting Crows
Panic Switch, Sliversun Pickups
Got You Where I Want You, The Flys
Never Met a Girl Like You, Edwyn Collins
Love Song, The Cure
Lonely Boy, Black Keys
Can you imagine even one of these making a pop station playlist (other than perhaps Coldplay)? Some of you reading this may not know most or even any of these songs (they are all on You Tube, if you are interested), and that's the point.. American music, if you listen to the radio, is one big American Idol tryout, with a Eminem Imitator-of-the-Month thrown in for a sideshow on occasion. It's been great to discover bands like the Decembrists and rediscover stuff like the Breeders and Oasis....and maybe this is catty, but the best thing of all about 104.5 is that there are no annoying "personalities." I actually like Louie G as a person, so I guess I would exempt him from that assessment (and he's fairly low-key, anyway), but the twit on the other pop station can't go away fast enough along with all the sidekicks on all the stations, and some of the other stations have guys that were on the air when I was growing up. If I wanted to hear chatter on the radio, I'd listen to AM talk shows.
3) There was a note in the paper this morning that the governor and other personages in the state government are starting to make noise about raising salaries in the legislative and executive branches. They are not so stupid as to do so before the election, but I think they are paving the ground for one of those December Christmas bonuses to themselves. This is beyond irresponsible; while there are programs being cut and unions being told that they have to cut back on what they deliver to their members, this should not even be on the table or whispered about. I can't wait to see where this one goes, and no one is saying that it is imminent. But both Cuomo and Silver said that raises are "needed." What is "needed" is a reordering of priorities and some effective governing. I will grudgingly admit that Cuomo is a better governor than I thought he was going to be, so I am going to hold the bile for now. But this is not something that should even be whispered about.
4) On a national level, Representative Gabrielle Giffords resigned this week, a year after being shot in the head. There are good reasons why she did so now, not least because she really isn't up to the job anymore. Which means, in essence, that the neo-Fascists got what they wanted; a reliable progressive seat up for grabs in a part of the country where progressive voices and seats are few. The national paralysis is going to continue for some time yet. As I explored last week, the White House is going to remain in the hands of the less-objectionable grouping of the Oligarchy, but the Congress is going to become even more a tool of the extremist wing of that cabal. I'd love to see any signs of hope that anything is on the horizon that offers a way out. But there isn't. It's going to get worse, which will eventually lead to two scenarios--either meek submission to the erosion of a meaningful participatory democracy, or an actual bloody revolution that will lead to a tyranny of one sort or another. The history of the world shows no long-lived example of broad-based republican or democratic government. Lincoln's Gettysburg Address was an acknowledgement of this fact; it baldy asked the question whether ours was a viable form of government, and his famous "four score and seven years ago" was an unspoken nod to the historic life span of relatively broad-based governments. We've already beaten the odds by having this form of democracy endure as long as it has. It could have easily went by the wayside in the 1790's, the 1860's, or the 1930's, and there have been other periods where what we think of as the benefits of democracy were severely curtailed--and that doesn't even take into account that for groups like African-Americans and Amerindians, "the land of the free" rhetoric has always been a sick and cruel joke. But the surety of even twenty years ago is gone; this form of government is, in the long term, doomed. I just hope it doesn't all blow up while I am still alive.

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