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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Hump Day odds & ends

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Wednesday, August 16, 2017 12:01 am

I have't given much thought to the anarchic chaos in Charlottesville, so I haven't felt compelled to write a lot about it, either.

Apparently, we're not allowed to just consider the violent incident itself, without context. We must choose a side. If we're a member of the left, we're supposed to denounce the evil President Trump for merely condemning all hate-induced mayhem without singling out neo-Nazi and KKK nuts in particular, and required to hold the Republican party and all conservatives liable for violence committed by anybody that can remotely be tied to the right. And if we're a member of the right, we must point out how unconcerned liberals (and members of the media) have seemed when the hate and violence came from the extreme left, and remind everybody how laid back and inappropriate Barack Obama's responses often were (like inviting BLM members to the White House).

Oh, sure, there's a 20-year-old loser here who seems enthralled by Adolph Hitler, and a 32-year-old woman who died for the sin of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We could talk about them. But they don't seem all that important in the grand scheme. They're just props to be moved around by all the witless poseurs desperate to make their narrative the loudest one.

I don't really want to go there. Sadly, we have reached the point of peak tribalism in both our politics and our culture. Since our nation was founded on the exaltation of the individual, we're about as far from the American ideal as it is possible to get. There is a whole lot of blame to go around for how we got here, but I'm not sure it can ever be straightened out, even if we could study the problem without our ideological baggage. The problem itself is the major roadblock in seeking a solution.

There is no resolution to our Charlottesvilles because there is no final authority accepted by all who can tell everybody to just stop the finger-pointing and get real. Obviously, Donald Trump is not that person. Oops, did I just take a side? I don't think so, but these days you never know.

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I've been hanging out at YouTube watching every Glen Campbell video I can find. That's something I do when musicians I like die, try to immerse myself in the music they left behind. Campbell is one of those artists whose discography amazes us when we take a fresh look at it and marvel at just how many big hits he really had. One year — I forget which — he outsold the Beatles. He was an anomaly is many ways — a good-looking clean-cut boy who sang easy-listening ballads at a time when America was falling apart and the English invasion was pushing Rock to discordant new levels.

There's a profound simplicity about country music like the kind Campbell sang. (Yes, I understand that his biggest hits were crossovers, more pop than country, but you can hear the country roots and feel the sentiment, which is what matters.) There is pain and ugliness in them, yes, just like in real life, but there is also clarity. There are lines not to be crossed. Somebody done somebody wrong, and somebody has to pay, even if the wronged party is oneself and the penalty is a lifetime of regret and self-loathing.

Glen Campbell was not always that clean-cut in his life. After making his mark as part of the famed Wrecking Crew in L.A., he let a couple of hit songs go to his head and went through a long, dark period of alcohol and drug abuse, which fueled bouts of domestic violence. I remember when he was hanging out with country singer Tanya Tucker, after his third divorce, and the press reports were pretty much that he beat the hell out of her. This gets us into trying-to-separate-the-dancer-from-the-dance territory. Can we deplore an artist's character but still admire the art he creates? Campbell apparently found God and went on the straight-and narrow, putting some peace back into in his life. But he still left a big bill to pay, and there has to be forgiveness from somebody besides himself. Bet there's a country song in that.

I also took to Netflix. Julie Morrison, who used to work here at Fort Wayne Newspapers, bugged me for a year to watch the documentary "The Wrecking Crew" about the remarkable group of session musicians in LA in the 1960s who played on scores of hit songs you probably know. The only two members who later became famous were Campbell and Leon Russell, who called Campbell the best guitarist he ever heard. With Campbell's death, I finally watched it and, Julie, belated thanks for the recommendation.

But we know Campbell mostly as a singer, an interpreter of lyrics who could take us into a song and make us believe it, especially when he was paired with the Great Jimmy Webb. Their collaborations brought us "Wichita Lineman," "By the Time I get to Phoenix" and "Galveston." I found an interesting tidbit about "Galveston":

The final town song, Galveston, was intended by Webb as a Vietnam protest song. But Campbell didn't see it that way. In 1965 he had recorded Buffy Saint-Marie's pacifist song Universal Soldier, and somehow managed to convince himself that he wasn't singing pacifist lyrics while doing so, insisting at the time that “if you don't have enough guts to fight for your country, you're not a man”. Webb had written a song about a man dreaming of escape from war, of a return to a place where no one is shooting; Campbell, by contrast, sang of a man who was at war for the sake of the town he loved, a change subtly made by a minor lyric change. Where Webb wrote “I put down my gun / And dream of Galveston”, Campbell sang “I clean my gun / And dream of Galveston.”

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Alas, the musical made from the great movie "Groundhog Day," despite seven Tony nominations, is the latest casualty on Broadway, closing after just 176 performances. It was a heart-breaking failure: "This is not an embarrassing flop that deserves to close. It's an ambitious, well-crafted, entertaining musical that, for various reasons, never gained traction."

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Something somebody said that a lot of people need to hear. Defense Secretary James "Mad Dog" Mattis, thanking the sailors of the USS Kentucky, an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine, for their service: “You will have some of the best days of your life and some of the worst days of your life in the U.S. Navy, you know what I mean? That says — that means you're living. That means you're living. hat means you're not some p—— sitting on the sidelines, you know what I mean? Kind of sitting there saying, 'Well, I should have done something with my life.' Because of what you're doing now, you're not going to be laying on a shrink's couch when you're 45 years old, say, 'What the hell did I do with my life?' Why? Because you served others; you served something bigger than you.”

Of course, not everyone was pleased with his blunt language. "Defense Secretary Mattis Uses Disparaging Term in Speech to Navy," says the headline on the story by NBC, which goes on to note that Mattis wouldn't be the first member of the executive branch "to make vulgar comments. Trump used the same obscenity in a 2005 conversation that was caught on tape and unearthed in October."

Two different contexts, which means two very different meanings for the term. But that's the sort of nuance you wouldn't expect from a bunch of media p——-s sitting on the sidelines.

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Alas, the musical made from the great movie "Groundhog Day," despite seven Tony nominations, is the latest casualty on Broadway, closing after just 176 performances. It was a heart-breaking failure: "This is not an embarrassing flop that deserves to close. It's an ambitious, well-crafted, entertaining musical that, for various reasons, never gained traction."

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News you can use: How to cope with President Trump Distress Disorder — yes, it's a real thing! "As hard as it might be to tear oneself away from the news, or from Trump's Twitter account, therapists recommend disconnecting from electronic and social media for at least a few hours a day. Another therapist advised taking an extended break from the news. Shut it off for a couple days and don't feel like you are putting yourself in danger. If there is something incredibly important, you are going to hear it,' Elias said. This advice extends to participation in political conversations."

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Something somebody said that a lot of people need to hear, Part 2: Dr. Judith Curry explains the reality of bad climate science and bad politics:

“On balance, I don't see any particular dangers from greenhouse warming. {Humans do} influence climate to some extent, what we do with land-use changes and what we put into the atmosphere. But I don't think it's a large enough impact to dominate over natural climate variability.”

Regarding the politically contrived climate “consensus” arguments put forth by climate alarmists she concludes:

“The collapse of the consensus on cholesterol and heart disease – that one collapsed overnight. I can only hope that sanity will eventually prevail with the climate problem as well.”

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Alas, the musical made from the great movie "Groundhog Day," despite seven Tony nominations, is the latest casualty on Broadway, closing after just 176 performances. It was a heart-breaking failure: "This is not an embarrassing flop that deserves to close. It's an ambitious, well-crafted, entertaining musical that, for various reasons, never gained traction."

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How far will they go? When will they stop? These are questions people are asking about the current "get rid of the monuments" fever. Maybe we have an answer now. Vandals in Washington have struck the Lincoln Memorial,  scrawling “F–k law” in red paint on a pillar at the monument. A classy addition to the national dialogue.

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Something somebody said that a lot of people need to hear, Part 3. Revisiting Condoleezza Rice's take on monuments to slaveholders, arguing against what she called the "sanitizing" of history. "I am a firm believer in 'keep your history before you' and so I don't actually want to rename things that were named for slave owners," she said. "I want us to have to look at those names and recognize what they did and to be able to tell our kids what they did, and for them to have a sense of their own history."

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Just when we thought people could not get any weirder. A warrant has been issued for a Texas resident who stands accused of having sex with a chain link fence, according to court records. "Investigators allege that Estala—who appeared intoxicated—proceeded to then “stick his erected penis into the chain link fence” and “have sex with the fence.” Estala apparently “thought the fence was a female,” said Vazquez, who provided police with photos and video she shot of her naked neighbor."

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Alas, the musical made from the great movie "Groundhog Day," despite seven Tony nominations, is the latest casualty on Broadway, closing after just 176 performances. It was a heart-breaking failure: "This is not an embarrassing flop that deserves to close. It's an ambitious, well-crafted, entertaining musical that, for various reasons, never gained traction." 

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