"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

4-H foodstand loses some of its appeal

The family went out to the county fair for 2017. Last year we passed because of confusion over the changed fair schedule. Last year we made an attempt to come out on Wednesday only to be put off by the "private parking" signs at the road leading to the main fair parking lot. I was flabbergasted. It turns out the fair doesn't really get going on Wednesday, even though the community supper has been changed to Tuesday.
This is one of those things, I guess, where you just have to be in the know. Call it one of those small town things. "Didn't you know that? Everyone knows that." Well sorry, guess we're out of the loop.
Superior Industries has moved into the fair and taken a chunk. I guess that explained the "private parking" signs. I was told to check the Lee Center parking area. That's a long walk to the 4-H foodstand which has been our main priority. Last year Mom was not yet wheelchair-bound. The walk from Lee Center would have been too much for her. But even if we had made it, we would have discovered that the 4-H foodstand wasn't open on Wednesday. That would have upset me. I'm sure people checked out the foodstand on Wednesday expecting it to be open. A 4-H parent tells me the organization doesn't have the resources to open that early.
We returned to the 4-H foodstand for the 2017 fair, but that was not a wholly happy experience. In the past when there were three of us, we'd automatically order the "plate special." It included a sloppy joe, chips and coleslaw. This year there was no plate special on the menu. Why not offer fairgoers a nice little meal special?
I also found that the prices at the foodstand seemed high. I discussed this with a long-time 4-H leader on Sunday, and he said "you have to charge what other places charge." Nice little rationalization. Well, you don't "have to" charge what someone else charges. The fair is a tempting opportunity to gouge the public. I would just like to suggest that Stevens County 4-H should be above that. We all want to have warm feelings about Stevens County 4-H.
I heard someone on Monday say the soup seemed awfully "thin" at the 4-H foodstand. My family got overcharged for dessert on Sunday afternoon and of course I decided not to make an issue of it. Sometimes those very little kids working at the foodstand can be overwhelmed. Maybe the very youngest kids should be excused from doing that. Let the older kids and adults handle it. I was told that one pie a la mode and one brownie sundae came to about $9.50. I knew that was wrong but I let it go. I assumed it was an honest mistake. I hope it was.
Here's a theory: Maybe the person in charge of the 4-H foodstand this year wanted to show off about how much money he/she could make for 4-H. Well, money's honey, I guess, especially in the year 2017 when our happiness is determined by how the "Dow" behaves each year. I'm waiting for our benevolent Lord to straighten us out on this. God never rewards sheer materialism.
Next year I think we'll switch to the Hockey Association (VFW) foodstand. At least you have adults waiting on you there. I have fond memories of the VFW foodstand going back to when the VFW's people actually ran it: an endearing crowd with the likes of Darlene Olen. You'd order eggs over easy and Darlene would bark back "over hard." I'd chuckle. I guess Darlene preferred making them that way. At a certain point in the morning, the Elmer's Distributing crew (with Oscar Brandt) would show up and get seated at a couple of picnic tables there.
I loved those peaceful times at the fair when I wasn't preoccupied with newspaper duties. 4-H at the fair no longer needs a newspaper person around. They can do all that work themselves and I think that's nice.
I remember the fair from when it was much smaller than today. The late 1970s saw the fair at a rather rinky-dink level, prompting one to think the end might be near for the event. Commercial exhibits were in a rickety old building. The 4-H foodstand with Flossie Mathison in charge - bless her memory - had seating only around the perimeter. A big deal was made of getting an "indoor livestock arena" but this was really just a roof.
We went through a phase of having big-time country musicians here. A huge deal was made of this. The casinos came along and attracted all the performers. We still have those great "dirt" events. Well, here in the year 2017 our fair certainly seems healthy. We just don't want people getting too greedy, right?
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

When a deep dark tan in summer was nice

I hate to let go of this summer. Summer never lasts long enough. My generation when young thought it desirable to get a rich "tan" in summer. It was a sign of being "cool" to get such a tan - something that made you stand out in a positive way.
Our band director introduced his own daughter as "Miss Lobster" at the start of a summer rehearsal. We all laughed. Her tan was the optimal one. She was attractive too by the standards of that time. Being thin was a factor that went into the mix of being considered attractive. We have changed that yardstick, for the better to be sure. The human race has evolved since the days of the "wolf whistle" and females being called "babes" or "dames," the latter term tossed out by Frank Sinatra and his peers.
Do kids put any value in having a "tan" anymore? I read once that in pre-baby boomer times, a tan was something associated with having a hard labor type of job out in the fields. It was not desirable at all. My generation came along and suddenly thought it was quite fashionable, along with various behaviors that had questionable value: listening to loud "stereo" music, smoking dope and having a slouched posture. Ah, that was my generation.
I was acquainted with a female in the summer of 1973 who sat outside for long hours, letting the sun bake into her skin so she could get that much-sought deep tan.
My generation tried to act like we didn't care about money. Maybe this was because we didn't feel communism was worth fighting in Viet Nam. Let's try to sympathize with the values of the enemy, then. There was a professor on the St. Cloud State campus who was reputed to be openly favoring the North Vietnamese. Today he'd be "ambushed" and shamed by a Fox News reporter. The institution would apply the clamps to him. I won't type his name here.
At a certain point, the scientifically-affirmed dangers of sun exposure changed everyone's attitude about tans. My generation whimpered into a corner about that. Today the idea is to be protected when you're outdoors in summer. Be under some type of canopy. Get all the fresh air you want - that's great - but protect your skin from sun abuse that could lead to cancer.
My generation would be reluctant to admit much about our past values. I'm an exception writing this post. But I've always felt like an outlier relative to my generation.
I thought it was ridiculous, all the self-destructive behavior we put our imprimatur on, when young. Loud stereo music on expensive systems, which were status symbols, keeping our classmates awake at night. It was socially discouraged to complain about loud stereo music. This scourge was embraced by our young culture. Be ready to hear the Edgar Winter Group's "Frankenstein" play when you're trying to sleep. Watch your peers go to the downtown bars on weekends. This despite the fact these kids pleaded poverty all the time, like they had no money to spend. Where did the money come from to support their wasteful behavior? Hey, let's go to the "Cantina." There was free popcorn, I guess. Listen to Starbuck's "Moonlight Feels Right" on the jukebox. You know why this song hooked us? It was because of the little instrumental fill after the hook line.
I wandered about a bit in this sea of debauchery. I knew what it was like to sit at a table and occasionally "buy a round" and get a wave of thank yous from everyone. We watched shallow TV shows like "Happy Days." This time of year we'd be appreciating the extent of the tan we had achieved. We equated this with sexiness. In the old days it was associated with field labor. Today it's associated with cancer risk. Buy my oh my, my generation sure made its mark with the values it chose, whether counterproductive or not.
And hey, it could have been worse: what if we had supported the Viet Nam war? What if we had been lackadaisical about racism and sexism? So we were forward-looking in some respects. We were also disingenuous or schizophrenic or something like that, because we were all too ready to discard the left-leaning political philosophy we once had. We planted the seeds for the "tea party." We went from not caring much about money to being totally money-grubbing. We have done much to ensure we have Republican leadership in all three branches of government, meaning there is absolutely no hope for the time being of getting humanistic health care reform. People will die because of our foot-dragging. Children will die.
We were the ones who thought it was so unconscionable for 60,000 young men to die in Viet Nam. We shift and ruminate at least on a subconscious level. That's because we are so human an animal. But no more do our daughters seek to get the moniker "Miss Lobster." That was cute, John.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, August 3, 2017

A cup of coffee and thoughts re. mortality

God bless our old Radarage "Cookmaster" microwave oven, by Amana. It's ancient. So simple to operate. Just a few buttons to deal with. So contrary to the trends of today. I see microwave ovens for sale today and there are all kinds of buttons to push. Our old Radarage is like a rock I can depend on. I approach it every morning at 5 a.m., give or take an hour, and prepare my hot morning instant coffee that activates my mental function.
My mother doesn't drink coffee and it was ditto with Dad. Mom has wheat bran flakes, the store brand from Willie's, every morning. Dad enjoyed his raisin bran. Our dog Sandy had his Cesar's dog food. Dad knew that as soon as I got in my recliner, Sandy would come along within seconds and ask to be fed. It became a morning gag in our household. We had Robin Meade of the HLN network on TV in front of us.
These days I watch "Morning Joe" with Joe and Mika - I'm not going to review the spelling of Mika's last name - discussing the notorious issues associated with Donald Trump and his administration. Is it Watergate redux? No one can predict of course.
Mom is 93 years old. Home health nurses visit us. I have never bet against my mother living longer. But of course no one lives forever. I am thankful she does not have the kind of cancer pain issues that I have long been familiar with through acquaintances. I am told that weakness will set in. As I write this, I sense that process is underway. She has enjoyed life to a great extent since coming home from Barrett Care Center.
We were in Barrett so long, it really did start feeling like home. I miss many of the people we shared time with there. Some of them, I'm sure, thought I was a little too overbearing or involved as a caregiver. Some of them seemed to like me totally and that's nice. A fellow caregiver who was also there a lot said to me: "You keep close watch on your mother all the time, and they (staff) don't like that." Perhaps staff fears I'll file some sort of complaint based on an alleged misstep in care. Nursing home residents present a heckuva challenge, and I fully support and admire those who work at these institutions.
Mom, in spite of her challenges, has enjoyed life just fine since coming home from Barrett. We have gone to church regularly along with the Wednesday night ELCA Lutheran sessions at the Met Lounge side room. Bridget serves us wonderfully there. Church at the Met Lounge? We must emphasize it's the side room.
It has always been folly trying to predict how much longer Mom will be with us. She will leave this life and join her husband Ralph in heaven. There she can play the "UMM Hymn" on the piano for Dad's enjoyment.
Mom will also join her sister Mildred and brother Edwin. Mildred of Oregon passed away a couple years ago from esophageal cancer - an unfortunate way to die. She was under the care of home hospice at the end, just like Mom is now. She stayed at the home of her stepdaughter and her husband. Aunt Mildred's husband was Ray Riedberger who had Hawley MN roots. She had a first marriage that produced five children but ended sadly. Let's just leave it at that. Many years passed before I saw any of those cousins again.
Edwin of San Diego had a son, Norman, who won high honors for his service in Viet Nam. My father always wondered if Norman had to do some very unpleasant things to win that. Norman had a twin brother Allan. Norman died of a heart attack several years ago. I regret not seeing more of them over the years. So, Norman will be in heaven awaiting my mother too.
My mother never liked it when I swore, so when she passes to the next life, I will have to resolve to never again utter a cuss word. I will have to remember to keep attending church like the Jimmy Stewart character in "Shenandoah," honoring his late wife's wishes. Stewart would sometimes go to his wife's gravesite and "converse" with her. I asked Del Sarlette once whether this kind of thing is normal or proper. Del said "yes" but he added: "Don't get too carried away with it."
Aunt Mildred was cremated and there was no service and not even an obituary. I will have no problems going that route again.
People come and go in this life. But our Radarage cooker is certain to go on forever, just like the cockroaches and Cher (according to the old joke). Indeed, contemporary products are made more complicated than their predecessors. Dave Barry wrote a column about this. He was inspired by an article he read quoting industry leaders lamenting the fact that consumers don't seem to spend enough time reading their owner's manuals. Barry sided with the consumers, writing that "products are made with too many functions, whereas people buy them to do one or two things." He talked about the "picture within a picture" feature of TVs made at the time. "It's hard enough to find one good thing to watch on TV," Barry quipped.
(Remember how "Radarage" inspired a bit of humor in the movie "Airplane?")
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Making a $ commitment to U of M-Morris

Dave Mona used to tease Sid Hartman about being tight with his money. People who grew up during the Depression have peculiar traits about money and material possessions, peculiar at least by today's standards. It's quite understandable in the context of what these people experienced in the 1930s.
Of course that time period gets ever more remote. People were defensive and protective. They wouldn't discard anything. We're 180 degrees opposite in our tech age of today, where we discard generations of that stuff and acquire a new generation. Obsolescence is so rapid. We have come to accept that as the norm. Our family still has a bulky, heavy TV set which we thought was so shiny new when we got it.
I grew up in a family with parents who were clinging to values nurtured in the Depression. I considered getting a second bicycle once and my father had reservations. As a kid, I wore clothing too large because "I'd grow into those" (and then they wouldn't have to be replaced as fast). Bless my parents because they dealt with their environment as best they could.
Our family has been blessed by having had our assets increase thanks to compound interest, going back to that time when banks paid interest. Remember those times? Given that blessing along with general prudence, we are in position to share a little with the institution that brought us to Morris.
We did make a gift at the time my father passed away four years ago. Was it a large donation? That is very subjective to judge. I think that two or three decades ago, it would have been considered large. The endless bull market of the recent past has shifted our standards for judging what an appreciable amount of money is. So, our donation of four years ago sort of came and went.
We're trying to do a little more now. So I got out our checkbook in a manner just as novel as if Sid Hartman did it. This is just as unusual as if Hartman were to pick up the tab for a lunch gathering of sports VIPs! I wrote out a check for $10,000 to the University of Minnesota Foundation. The point is to help the music department. I'm told this will be a quasi endowed fund. We're not in a position at least at the moment to make it a perpetually endowed fund. There are deep pocket people or corporations way above us, of course. We're just a family that happens to be associated with UMM's origins.
I'm getting to an age where my personal memories are getting more important. I witnessed the campus right from the get-go when it was in rapid transition from being an ag school. I was struck by the campus "circle drive." Music concerts were at Edson Auditorium. The music headquarters was the old historic building that now serves the multi-ethnic element. I once watched football from an upper level when it was played at the old P.E. Miller Field.
Football moved to a new facility where it enjoyed its glory era under the likes of coaches Al Molde and Mike Simpson. A football program of that caliber served its purpose at the time. Fortunes later faded whereupon we "solved" that by getting into a new conference. I will always miss the days when we played the well-known state universities. I guess the end had to come, but I cannot shed too many tears because football may be losing its cultural relevance due to the health issues. Soccer promotes much pride.
Music has marched forward through all of this. The Homecoming concert may be the most special day all year for UMM music. There is a whole succession of concerts through the school year, some more esoteric than others. They all serve the grand purpose of celebrating the music discipline on the UMM campus. I feel highly confident that UMM music represents a terrific investment for people like Mom and I who are contributing funds.
Regardless of the direction and priorities of higher education in the years ahead, there will always be a need for a vibrant, exciting music department. It enriches and it entertains. It is a PR ambassador. And it is safe. Nothing like the 2005 goalpost incident would ever happen in connection to music. Leave it to sports for silliness like that. The UMM Homecoming concert is like a refuge on Homecoming weekend. It has nothing to do with knocking an opponent on his keister.
Remembering the very start
Let's drift back in time to November of 1960. Winter was setting in. Let's imagine the grand old armory building in Morris, located where the public library is now. The UMM band made its debut performance on Saturday, Nov. 5. My father Ralph E. Williams was the director. He was UMM's only music faculty in the institution's first year. He did more than was technically required of him. I think the whole faculty was like that.
Those were seminal days when the very future of the institution seemed not fully assured. We seemed experimental as this small publicly-funded liberal arts institution on the prairie. My father grew up in Glenwood (high school class of 1934) and was familiar with the environment.
On November 5 of 1960, Ralph E. Williams directed the UMM band adorned in its navy blue uniforms trimmed with maroon and gold.
We regularly hear comments about how we need more of a bond between campus and community. The comment surfaces so regularly, I'm almost inclined to laugh when it comes up. UMM's debut band concert epitomized that hoped-for bond because the audience was Stevens County 4-Hers and their parents! An audience of about 1000 was present. Our band had about 50 pieces with the roster including six selected players from the Morris High School band.
"A band of this size was not anticipated the first year," we read in the Morris paper. The armory burned down in about 1966. The campus got through its experimental phase and became quite permanent. And today the Williams family, Martha and Brian, is pleased to renew its commitment, lest people think we're just yesterday's news.
Click on this link to read about the UMM men's chorus' trip to the New York World's Fair in 1964:
Here you can read about the historic trip in 1962 of the men's chorus to the Seattle World's Fair a.k.a. Century 21 Exposition:
You may listen to the sounds of the early UMM men's chorus, from YouTube, via this link. It's exciting:
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, July 24, 2017

"Eddie and the Cruisers II, Eddie Lives!" is OK

I thought I would never see the sequel to "Eddie and the Cruisers." I remember that release landing like a thud. I discovered the sequel on the "Charge!" TV network while surfing the other night, rather late at night. It was a pleasant surprise.
Certainly I was interested to see what this movie was all about, "dud" status notwithstanding. Sometimes when you examine something that has "dud" written all over it, you discover something redeeming. If you look at the "Eddie" sequel on its own terms, it has its moments. This is especially toward the end. It becomes like a big Bruce Springsteen concert.
Of course the "Eddie" sound parallels Springsteen quite a bit, and it's like Dion and the Belmonts if you go back to "Eddie Wilson's" formative times. The first movie presented this sound as cutting edge for its time. Wild rock 'n' roll was controversial in the pre-Beatles age. Eddie Wilson (fictional of course) went further. He got into a real progressive sound that was way out of whack for the early 1960s. The record company bosses would have none of it. A climactic scene has one of these typical shallow corporate music types telling about "a bunch of jerk-offs making weird sounds." That line stuck with me.
People in the music business will slam the door on anyone. The Internet and its immense possibilities has widened the horizons for all creative people. You don't have to try to get past that (expletive) velvet rope to try to enjoy the success of that very exclusive group. Small-time acts can pull their own weight. It's a blessing. Remember how the Beatles failed an audition with Decca? That shows how bad it was.
The sequel to the "Eddie" movie has some issues with how it's tied to the original, IMHO. Eddie explains that he did his disappearing act because of the insult of how he was treated by the company guy. Eddie had worked so hard on the new innovative album. I think there was more at work than that. There was a love angle in the first movie that sort of got buried. "Eddie's girl" was in that band, remember? And remember how Eddie saw his girl smooching with the Tom Berenger character at the college appearance? Remember how that incident launched Eddie into an angry dissing of the Berenger guy during the college concert? Remember the demoralizing effect this had for the whole band? I even saw this as a reason for the saxophone player's suicide that happened soon thereafter. The sax player was dragged into depression, as I saw it. The joy seemed gone.
The Berenger character named "Ridgeway" had the nickname "word man." The college incident nearly drove him away. Ridgeway in fact seemed the primary character in the first Eddie movie. His perspective prevailed. Berenger is not in the sequel.
Eddie explains in the sequel that he actually had a legitimate accident on the bridge, hitting the guard rail, whereupon the mishap developed into an opportunity to disappear. I always felt the disappearance was orchestrated all along. "Disappearing" is not something you can do on a mere whim. The Eddie in the first movie pulled it off, fulfilling the same destiny as that fellow who wrote the poem "Season in Hell." Really it was a masterful plot with a well-defined beginning, middle and end. Therefore a sequel would be quite challenging to plot, eh?
The first movie had belated success, only hitting paydirt when it found a home in the early days of HBO. It never succeeded on the big screen even with renewed tries.
A sequel represented a new attempt to juice this storyline up. The sequel was not successful. That doesn't mean we can't enjoy it if we just put certain expectations aside and give it a chance, on its own terms. That's what I did watching TV late at night.
I thought of the horrible reviews at the time of release. Bad reviews can get to be like a snowball rolling downhill. The critics really start pouring on the snark. Like in one review where I read that Eddie's girlfriend spent the whole movie crying. I didn't find that to be true at all. I think this actress did fine in her unpretentious way as a struggling young artist.
I found it charming and inspiring the way the great Michael Pare as a rejuvenated Eddie was a mentor for his group of young musicians who were finding themselves. The music and the sense of triumph at the end is boffo! Eddie finally introduces himself with the "Eddie Wilson" name.
At that point I wondered about the legal entanglement he'd end up in, by virtue of his re-surfacing after years of being considered "legally" dead! My, there would certainly be consequences to be faced. What if a life insurance policy had been paid!
Oh, but it's all about the music for Eddie and his mates! I suppose we can be inspired by that.
I didn't consider the sequel movie to be a waste of time at all. Oh, maybe it's an acquired taste. But I'm happy for Pare who gave us such a distinctive role. "Eddie and the Cruisers" helped define the 1980s. It showed that an artistic creation didn't have to get past that old "velvet rope" to get on its feet, make a profit etc. This is a consequence of tech expanding the boundaries for how art can be disseminated. I would recommend that you watch "Eddie and the Cruisers II, Eddie Lives!"
Here's a wrinkle: The first Eddie movie was nostalgic about the early 1960s, but when we watch it today, it's more nostalgic about the 1980s! Look at all the cigarette smoke floating around.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, July 21, 2017

Oh to see a Cheshire Cat grin in D.C. thicket

I have written before that the "Beltway" around Washington D.C. is a unique and rather bizarre place that should not serve as an example for how anything else in the country should run. I was reflecting on Watergate. Young writers at the time looked up to "Woodward and Bernstein." Fine, but once again, don't think the Beltway operates like anywhere else. Old white men with personal baggage and failings go there to wield power.
Watergate was a ridiculous ordeal with so many players, so many people protecting their own narrow agendas, a series of trading cards could have been issued. Now we're seeing the same kind of thing. Amazingly the U.S. chose Donald Trump as its president. We chose a man with no experience in government or the military. We elected a total clown. So once again we are reminded of what an unusual place the Beltway is.
I cannot emphasize strongly enough: the Beltway is not to be viewed as a template for anything outside of its boundaries. Outside of its boundaries, institutions are run in a sensible way by reasonable and qualified people. We rub shoulders with them every day. But in Washington D.C.? There are sensible people there like our Senator Amy Klobuchar. But there's this big clown car populated by Republicans. It is becoming childish how they always cry out to "repeal Obamacare."
This was a nice little dog whistle proclamation for a long time, for as long as Republicans lacked real power to enact stuff. We are now seeing Republicans confront the reality of the power they have. They are dealing with a president who at least nominally is like them. But Trump is an inscrutable, dangerous mystery in so many ways. He never asserted himself to try to sell any sort of Republican-shaped package for health care. A responsible president would have given a nationally-televised speech on something so important.
Maybe subconsciously the Republicans know their ideas will never gain traction. They know that their "repeal Obamacare" cries were really rooted in racism, a desire to stigmatize our president of eight years as "the other." It's rather amusing now because Obama is out of power. There's no need to focus on him so much, but Trump flails away still trying to blame him for whatever. Does anyone think this is not child-like?
Rand Paul absolutely rants. But he's drifting in a far-off universe of ideas that are not rooted in reality. They simply appeal to a base of tea party-like zealots who also are not rooted in reality. They are an annoying peanut gallery. And it's becoming less and less funny.
Rand Paul is fine as an unusual personality or curiosity, but we don't want him impacting the kind of health care we receive. The common folk would get abused. Trump said in front of Australia's leader that Australia has superior health care. Australia has universal coverage.
David Brooks observed that Obama had "civility" of the kind that would be missed once he gave way to his successor. Many Trump supporters assumed that their guy would learn to be presidential and put aside a lot of the nonsense. What an incredible gamble that was. Trump is as silly as ever. But we have seen this before in that mysterious "Beltway," that "Alice Through the Looking Glass" kind of place.
We saw Nixon degenerate so badly, he was not even allowed to be commander in chief at the end. Bob Schieffer wrote about that. Had Nixon attempted some sort of direct order to the military, it would have had to get relayed through other parties. I wonder if the same type of arrangement is now in place for Trump, lest he try to launch nuclear weapons. And yet the American people elect these guys, through a long and wearisome process.
Remember all the Republican debates? They seemed endless. Weren't there something like 17 candidates? The irony is that all Republicans stand for the same things. No need for such endless discussion on "issues." Republicans want to slash regulations and cut taxes, period. Everything else is for show. Republicans pretend to bond with so-called social conservatives. They'll parrot the pro-life (anti-abortion) line. But as Thom Hartman has pointed out, Republicans "don't give a rat's patootie" about those issues. Republicans just want those votes in their back pocket - it's all expedience.
I have a friend who was right in line with the tea party movement and still forwards me emails reflecting that. I warned him once that his crowd underestimated the popularity of Obama in the broad public. I pointed out to him that there was a good barometer for understanding this. I told him to consider the frequency of Michelle Obama on the cover of women's magazines at the supermarket checkout. (I suppose it's sexist to say "women's magazines" but you know what I'm talking about.)
Americans knew the Obamas were working on their behalf. Our current president certainly is not. The current administration is devolving into a sinkhole very much like what we saw with Nixon. It's the "Beltway blues" once again. "Alice Through the Looking Glass." It would be nice to at least see a Cheshire Cat grin.
I have written a song in tribute to Barack Obama, simply called "Barack Obama." The chorus is sort of stretched out so I only have three verse sections. Most of the significant music about Obama is hip-hopish. My song is the standard style. I don't know if I'll have it recorded. Here are the lyrics:

"Barack Obama"
by Brian Williams

They said he was the "other"
Who came from who knows where
He could not be our leader
If he came from out there
But in his soul was greatness
In his mind a plan
With his vision he was the man

Barack Obama, Barack Obama
A man with the will to go and get Osama
Barack Obama, Barack Obama
A man with a style to get him called "No Drama"
Barack Obama, Barack Obama, Barack Obama

He came from warm Hawaii
A paradise on Earth
He conquered all the mainland
With his inspiring words
He moved into the White House
With his spouse Michelle
And their girls who sparkled so well

(repeat chorus)

It was his inspiration
To help the common folk
No matter what their color
No matter what their vote
He felt it in his bosom
Lifting up our lot
With that chicken in every pot

(repeat chorus)

- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Music: natural bedfellow of politics

Robert F. Kennedy used "This Land is Your Land" as his theme song. Kennedy picked up the torch from Gene McCarthy, remember? I'm not sure Minnesotan McCarthy really wanted to give up the torch. He lit the fire of the anti-Viet Nam War crowd. His success signaled to LBJ that the status quo was about to be torpedoed.
"This Land is Your Land" is the populist anthem written by Woody Guthrie. It displaced the more pompous "God Bless America." I drove to Alexandria to see the movie "Bobby."
The U.S. makes such a big deal about how we cannot tolerate chemical weapons anymore. We drew a supposed "red line" in Syria and then kept raising the bar. We were supposed to intervene at a certain point. Barack Obama, averse by nature to war, couldn't pull the trigger. Maybe it's just as well he didn't. Sometimes intervention can turn into a sink hole.
What a vivid lesson in Viet Nam, where by the way, the U.S. used chemical weapons. That war happened during my formative years along with Watergate. I'm conditioned to expect really bad things happening with our nation's leaders. I suppose this explains the ironic title of the David Halberstam book "The Best and the Brightest."
Halberstam visited my alma mater of St. Cloud State while I was there. I read his book "October 1964" about the 1964 major league baseball season. He may have put a little too much symbolism in that season. I'm not sure the Yankees lost the World Series because they represented some sort of "old order." They were a good team as was St. Louis. The Series went seven games. St. Louis with a young Lou Brock won.
Brock played in St. Cloud MN on his way up. The St. Cloud team was the "Rox." St. Cloud has a team today that started out as the "River Bats" before adopting the old "Rox" name. I wonder if there were legalities or something to deal with. Several major leaguers polished their skills with the old "Rox" such as Gaylord Perry, Matty Alou and Orlando Cepeda, in addition to Brock.
Why did the Rox fade away? It was probably because of the creation of the Minnesota Twins in 1961, which monopolized all serious baseball interest from around Minnesota.
BTW the comic strip Doonesbury suggested a sequel of sorts to Halberstam's book, concurrent with Watergate: "The Worst and the Stupidest."
"He Never Thought He Would win"
Music and politics would seem to be natural bedfellows. Both are infused with emotions and symbolism. They can galvanize our thoughts and our ideals. The other night, I wrote a song inspired by the early days of the Trump administration. It's called "He Never Thought He Would Win."
I think the people around Trump performed in the campaign through a combination of fun, novelty and endorphins, as if it were really a lark. Hey, a presidential campaign! What a rush. They didn't really think they would win, did they? Did Trump himself think he would win?
How many of those people, such as those now under scrutiny in the Russia collusion investigation, now wish he had not won? Think of that Manafort fellow. Or my goodness, Flynn!
How many front-line Republicans, now scared because they actually have to take responsibility for U.S. health care, wish Trump had not won? Had he not won, Republicans could still feel their oats by continuing to throw stones at various things the Democrats did, like "Obamacare." Now they must be feeling rather a siege mentality. And what if the economy starts to collapse? In the end that's what brought Nixon down.
It's hard to believe a sane nation would elect Trump, he of the "Access Hollywood" embarrassment. Why wasn't that the end for him?
Will Trump be forced from his office through some kind of misconduct that is found? Would Federal marshals show up to arrest him? What if he as commander in chief directs the military to protect him and his family? Guess I'm thinking like the late Tom Clancy now. Imagine the movie.
I invite you to read the lyrics for my song "He Never Thought He Would Win." I have a nice melody for this. Will I have it recorded? As always I don't know. I write music and poetry all the time. I loved the opportunity to rhyme with the word "weird" (with Vladimir). Maynard Ferguson once sang a song where he rhymed with "weird." Here we go:

"He Never Thought He Would Win"
by Brian Williams

Eight years came and went for Mr. "O"
He was suave and classy, don't you know
Never one to show misogyny
He took care of us so faithfully

Now we say hello to Mr. Trump
So much like a bear with boxing gloves
Did he really plan this in advance?
It was like a sudden avalanche

He never thought he would win
And now he's our president
Though he bragged a bunch
I just had a hunch
He never thought he would win

I thought Russia was our enemy
In the Cold War it was plain to see
You can't trust the Russians, we were told
Maybe it's a sign I'm growing old

So in touch with Mr. Vladimir
We might think that it was awful weird
Still we gave our nod to Mr. Trump
Now we wonder what we've went and done

(repeat chorus)

Jared Kushner is the son in law
He got power from Ivanka's pa
Donald Jr. has entitlement
They all understood what victory meant

On his way to being No. 1
Our new leader had a lightning tongue
He gave speeches that could knock 'em dead
If he only knew what lay ahead

(repeat chorus)

- Brian Willams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com